1. Not to judge someone based on appearance.
And I mean size, weight, clothes, hair, complexion. For example, I know a lot of people who struggle with weight despite much effort to drop some pounds. During one conversation, one person was being criticized and assuming since that person never lost weight, they must be constantly sneaking food or hitting a daily drive-through. But I know this person has also been given many steroid shots over the years for medical reasons, has joint issues and stress they could not understand and none were not even trying to comprehend. There was no empathy. I saw it from the outside for the first time.
2. Not to judge a chronically ill person based on their daily routine.
…Or if they do break it and step out of their routine, it doesn’t mean they are fine or ‘all there’ at that moment in time. It’s impossible and yes, even selfish but they cannot change that fact. There were so many moments over the course of this last year, places, people and experiences I had yet there was the underlying baggage of pain or worry or ache. I haven’t been all there. Breaking my routine did sometimes relieve the baggage, but it was there. My memories are a bit tainted from the chronic pain. As it fades, I feel more joy in the energy, the little things of going a few hours without thinking about herbs and pills and loving more of being away from the house. When my mother-in-law who was fighting cancer 5 years ago would choose Target over seeing her granddaughter, it bugged me. But now, I get it.
3. Not to judge someone when I don’t hear back from them.
Things happen. Life happens. Things get worse before better. I over-promised many things because I thought I could do it all – but couldn’t – my energy, tiredness, timeline couldn’t pull off my yes and it had to become postponed. Or no.
4. Not to neglect self.
This goes along with number 3…trying to be wonder woman or supermom and it’s just impossible. Sometimes your kid just has to settle for Chef-Boyardee and you need to sit down and drink your herbal tea. Rest is a critical part of the healing process. Detoxing takes time and discipline and self-care. It is a priority to take care of yourself, especially if you are a wife and/or mom.
5. Not to hustle.
I would get aggravated at all the hashtags on social media regarding this word because I couldn’t – and I felt I had lost my game, lost who I was, failing by unable to keep up. Hustle can be a bad word just like being busy. There is a season to work, a season to rest, a season to run, a season to walk. Sometimes we are just ‘made to lie down in green pastures’. It’s not always green, but we must seek the peace amidst the hustle and passersby.
6. Not to let someone stay alone.
When I would get a text message or a call or a Bible verse regarding my pain, it didn’t always make me feel better. However, I was given a little hope and a little less lonely that someone was thinking of me. Loneliness can cause depression or be a result of such. Chronic pain or illness can also cause depression whether chemically, mentally or the fact what is in the body is actually causing it as was my case with systemic candida. There is an amazing online community of people, women that empower and lift each other up – and it has released loneliness. Not the fact others are in pain or suffering, but the unity of shared experience and hope lifts us out of our lonely hole.
7. Not to judge someone based on what they order/how they order at a restaurant.
I was definitely guilty of this…the one rolling my eyes at hearing, ‘I’m gluten-free’ or ‘I’m paleo’, or ‘Does the sauce have soy in it?’… But now that I’ve experienced a no-sugar/dairy/soy/processed/gluten/starch diet so I would heal, I get it. You don’t know why they are eating that way and if you do question it, health should be the last reason to worry about their choice. Being on a diet has been the single most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It’s become a new lifestyle and any beginning is very hard, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and socially.
8. Not to lose hope.
Focus on the days ahead. Have a plan for the bad days. I always thought panic attacks were something drummed up in women’s heads. But when your body feels poisoned and out of control – I did indeed feel panic. The thought of life ending and not seeing a future or caring to make one is scary and negative. Get out of that place by changing your thoughts. Breathe. Take a salt bath. Talk to someone, diffuse some oil, listen to music that takes you somewhere else. Breathe. Go outside. Remind yourself, this too shall pass.
9. Not to compare your journey.
Despite having the same ‘disease’ or illness as someone else does not mean what worked for them will work for you. Your timeline, your treatment, your routine and your healing cannot be compared. This goes back to being patient with yourself when others make progress, being compassionate when others have lost hope. I have learned that I might have a rough week or I regressed several times but when I compare to the month before, I am better. You can’t compare day to day of your own journey. It’s not a straight line.
Laughter is the medicine of the soul.
Watch some funny Youtube cat videos. It always works for me ;)