the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

Day 79 Train Your Brain: It Does Get Better

Posted by themirrenlee on 19/03/2012

Train your brain: it does get better.

Everything gets better, but sometimes you need to convince your brain that it’s true. Yes, I believe that time helps to heal wounds. (It’s also said that it “wounds all heels”, but we know that’s wishful thinking, hoping Karma really exists!) It may not heal all wounds enough that you’re not affected by them down the track, or can ever forget about them completely, but it’s certainly been true in my experience that life IS a roller coaster, and the ups and downs come and go. It gets rough, it gets better. The circle of life.

Many of you reading this may have seen the YouTube campaign, “It Gets Better”, aimed at giving hope to young gay people coping with bullying or trying to come out. I saw one of them put together by the police department, with all these different police men and women saying they are there to help, including, of course, gay ones. It was quite moving.

I am reminded of it tonight as I am putting up with the side effects of starting back on Cymbalta. I have a very low tolerance for drugs, so I’m prone to any side effect they’re offering! The main ones at the moment are fatigue (added to my chronic FM fatigue – oh joy) and a sense of apathy. Boy, that one’s funny for a Type A, slightly ADHD personality! It gives me a sense of what organic depression must feel like: not caring about doing anything.

This can be a bit of a problem since I have to pack tonight in preparation for getting to the airport tomorrow to return to Melbourne. However, the good news is, I’ve been down this road before, and know what to expect. The pain levels will calm down along with the side effects, slowly but steadily over the next couple of weeks. It’s a brain drug, for goodness sakes – one has to accept that we don’t want to push the brain too fast or too hard!

So I use a mantra to get me through this inconvenient and unpleasant period: “It’s not real, it’s just the side effect, it will pass, I’m not really this tired, it’s just the side effect, it’s not real, etc.” It kind of helps me to push through.

Of course, my biggest mantra of all, with everything – FM, symptoms, side effects, life in general: IT DOES GET BETTER.

All the sayings we see on magnets, greeting cards, posters, online are actually quite good as positive affirmations to make our brain obey our determination for an energized, positive outlook.

  • “Be the steamroller, not the footpath.”
  • “Just do it.”
  • “Make it happen.”
  • “Life is not about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself.”
  • “To get the things you’ve never had, you’ve got to do the things you’ve never done.”
  • “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.”
  • “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

There are, of course, thousands of them, which you can easily access online just by Googling “affirmations”. I really recommend finding your favorite ones, and putting them up where you can see them. Train your brain. It really does work. I’m sure you know negative people, whose affirmations run along the lines of, “These kinds of things always happen to me”, and “I never win anything.”

You know those are self fulfilling prophecies, so the opposite must be true, right? Positive affirmations will bring positive results in your life. Most people accept the concept of toxic energy being bad for us to be around; it makes sense, then, that positive energy will make us feel happier and therefore healthier. Affirmations can help with that.

I read once that we must be very careful what we tell our brain. If we repeat to ourselves, “I don’t want to be sick, or poor, or scared,” then the brain hears “sick, poor, scared.” It will respond more the way you want it to by rephrasing these thoughts in a positive framework: “I want to be healthy, rich, powerfully courageous.”

Those who suffer with chronic conditions know all too well through pain management techniques that we must work on our mental and emotional health, as well as our physical, if we want to function as well as possible. Learning to distract ourselves from the pain through our thought patterns is one way; another is to tell our brain that we’re feeling better than we actually are. As I said, train our brains. If necessary, bully them!

So I will continue to tell myself over the next couple of weeks that the way I’m feeling will get better, while looking forward to the end result, which will be both pain and side effects relief.

I encourage anyone suffering with a chronic condition who’s reading this: Train … Your … Brain … to believe it does get better. That is, of course, the foundation stone of Hope, and that’s what keeps us going.

I’m just trainin’ …

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