Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Getting Grounded: Physically & Emotionally

Ten years ago I was at the lowest point of my life. 

Physically I lived in constant pain, I had been diagnosed with Lipedema in 2007 and followed all the advice given for self care, which sadly also included the warning that exercise could make our symptoms worse.

By listening to that advice and stopping my exercise routine out of fear, I got a lot worse. I could barely stand, let alone walk, and felt like I was watching my life slip away. I lived in constant pain and fear. I could not participate in my life, my husband’s life, my daughter’s life.

I became depressed, and in an effort to hold on to whatever sanity I had left while living with my diagnosis and progressing physical challenges, I started working on my emotional fitness.

I took writing classes, joined drumming circles, prayed, journaled, practiced meditation and even became a reiki master as a way to try to heal my body.

I figured if I struggled physically, and couldn’t take action in that way, I would become stronger emotionally.

Then my life took a major emotional hit, and I knew I couldn’t survive the physical and emotional challenges at the levels they were at, so in March 2013 I asked my husband (and CrossFit instructor) what the workout of the day was. I knew I needed to get stronger physically while the emotional side took a hit.

He asked me why I wanted to know, and I said I was tired of listening to nothing physically we could do, and I wanted to be able to get off the ground if I fell.

So many Lipedema friends had been posting about falling and needing to call 911 to get help getting up when they fell. I knew it was my future if I didn’t change something.

That was when my hubby became my CrossFit coach, and we began training to get me stronger so I could eventually get down to the ground safely, so I could then work on getting back up from the ground on my own.

Getting grounded saved my life. 

The interesting and life saving realization was that the physical training made me stronger physically, but it also made me stronger emotionally, because I was taking action. 

I was doing something, and by doing something I felt less helpless on the path I was on, in the fight against Lipedema.

Emotionally Grounded

When we look at the traditional meaning of “getting grounded”, we know it is more emotionally based, and typically means to get centered within yourself and figure out what is important to you, a grounded person is someone who is said to be mentally and emotionally stable.

When you live with a chronic illness, finding ways of staying grounded are key to your survival. The emotional side of chronic illness is equally as important, but less talked about.

Typical ways are doing things like staying connected with others (joining a support group), breaking big tasks (like all the self care needed) into smaller doable steps so you don’t get overwhelmed, focus on the one task at hand, practice gratitude, meditation, deep breathing, etc.

I found it fascinating that my getting on the ground physically was in fact grounding me emotionally.

It was one of the reasons I started Lipedema Fitness. I wanted to share that realization, I wanted to spread awareness of Lipedema, and the importance of staying active with it, I wanted to support other patients on a similar journey, and I really didn’t want anyone feeling as alone as I had.

2023 will be the 10 year anniversary of this blog, and the Facebook support group. This community of patients is changing how we are seen and treated, and now exercise is a big part of our self care, you do have to see what works for you, some forms can cause symptoms to spike, but by sharing what we are doing, what works, and what doesn't, we have learned Lipedema presents differently for each of us, and also our bodies respond differently to everything we try. 

We have to try things, see how they work, see how our bodies respond, and keep a journal if it helps, so you can remember what didn’t work, and what did. And please continue to share and spread awareness, by doing so you touch the lives of the patients and change the minds of the medical community. 

We have come so far in the last 10 years, just think how far we can go in the next 10!

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