One of the most common questions I see posted on the ICA Facebook page concerns issues such as "I've tried everything there is to try; nothing works, so what now?" Good question.
I think we all face this at various times, even if we have treatments that help. How do we learn to "Stay the Course" in the face of never ending pain?
Well, for me it was seeking help by working with a psychologist. I have learned coping techniques that I work on when I am feeling particularly frustrated and challenged. I knew before I began therapy that I was struggling, but that I simply did not want to curl up in a ball in bed and give up. I knew I wanted to fight, but how? So thanks to my IC doctor's referral, I began working with a therapist and I have learned so much since then. Even when I am faced with yet another challenge, I have a way to talk about it with a professional and work on using the coping skills I have learned.
Don't get me wrong; it's a work in progress. But I believe that, while we have no control over what happened to us, we have control over how we respond. I am on Disability, as anyone who reads this Blog knows. That was not easy to accept, but when I realized it was one more way to COPE with living with IC and all my other health problems, I began to see it as a positive. My doctor tells me to think of it as a treatment; it's yet one more thing we can do to help me live with my IC and to help take the stress off my body that I was putting on it by trying to continue to work. Not everyone needs to go on Disability. But it's just an example of one thing I chose as a means of learning to manage my IC.
I know when things seem to be impossible and we're not finding the relief we so desperately need that it is hard to keep fighting. But I believe it's important to dig deep, never give up and keep looking at every option there is. It often takes trial and error; there's no magic pill for IC and more often than not it also takes a combination of treatments to achieve a successful level of relief.
I long ago stopped even thinking about the "WHY" of getting IC. It is my reality, so now I have to figure out how to live with it. So I got proactive. I write this Blog; I fund raise for the ICA; I volunteer and talk to other IC patients; I Tweet about IC to try to help raise awareness. I have a great local Support Group and my therapist. Does this mean I have it all figured out? No. But what it does mean is that I choose to not give up. To search out every piece of information, do what I can do and fight as hard as I can and never give up.
It's an ongoing process. We all have our good and bad days; I do too. I have had days where no matter how hard I tried, I felt I wasn't holding it together. That doesn't mean I've failed at never giving up. It just means I've had a bad day. One thing therapy has helped me with a great deal is, allowing myself to have a bad day, but now I know how to say; ok that was yesterday, today is a new day and it's an opportunity to start over.
So, I think ultimately it's a process. I don't expect to never have a bad day. But I have decided to use all the resources at my disposal to "Stay the Course"!