Today, I came upon an article in the New York Times which presented some interesting research about the far-reaching positive effects of expressive writing. Here it is:
I think you should go and have a look.
Expressive writing. I suppose that’s what blogs are. I like blogs, both writing them and reading what others have to say. As I read that NYTimes article, I realized that when I blog here, a large part of what I do is a pep-talk for me, as well as a way of organizing and clarifying my thoughts on life with PsA. And then there is the productive feeling that I get when I think that my words might possibly prevent just a bit of suffering on the part of others. Good stuff, that.
Today I am travelling: I’m in seat 29B, heading west, escaping the cold clutches of the Canadian winter for a bit of respite in California. We don’t have anything special planned, except for enjoying a few spectacular sunsets in Palm Desert, and spending a few days by the ocean in La Jolla. I will cook most of our meals, and enjoy a daily swim in the pool. And then we will beat a retreat back to The Great White North.
So far, so good: we’ve managed to get this far without incident. We’re not there yet, though. Why would I be concerned with incidents, you might ask? Why was I sleepless with worry for the last few nights? Well, because last year was The Year of The Problem. What problem? You name it, 2014 seemed to be shot through with problems and crises of all kinds. A trip that we expected to be fun turned out to be a chore from start to finish, with a hospital admission in the middle. Our friends’ dog, who we were doggysitting, bit a stranger. (Now that’s a long story, but the idiot deserved it. We are still waiting for our day in court.) Husband unwell, had surgery, and still isn’t quite over it. Our doggie darling was poorly and died at age twelve. My drug coverage insurance forced me to bail and take shelter in the government last-resort plan. The roof needed repair. My car suddenly demanded major, expensive attention. One. Thing. After. Another. Personal, medical, financial … hurdle after hurdle. The result has been that I worry more than I ever have, or should, and that 'I’ve become frightened of unknown bad things that I’m sure are about to happen. Not a good thing: I wasn’t even really looking forward to this trip, fearful as I seem to be these days. Surely, somewhere in the 2014 calendar, there must have been some good news. Surely. Let me think. Think hard, Seenie.
Oh, I know! One of the best things in 2014 was going to Montreal for a few days, and having a fantastic time with our friends. Who, you ask? Well, as a matter of fact, you know them too: moderators MichaelinVermont and janeatiu, and their families, that’s who! What a good time we had! The highlight of that weekend, I think, was the sunny gorgeous day that we spent at the beautiful botanical gardens, and the feeling that I really do have good friends who “get” this rare disease that we share.
And then there was my work here, on LWPsA: I love “meeting” people, and being vaguely useful, even if it’s all virtual these days. It’s hard for me to get out, and most volunteer work that I might otherwise enjoy would require more walking or standing than my feet would appreciate. So I come here and, with my feet up, I meet some really wonderful people from all over the world. This is good. I am so grateful for Ben’s Friends, and for all of you.
I suppose the best thing about 2014, though, was that I began feeling well enough, after a year on Enbrel, to start working on rehabilitating my PsA-battered body after twenty years of exhaustion, pain and joint surgery. Now, six months into my new routine of physiotherapy exercises and cardio in the pool three times a week, I’m starting to see encouraging results. My foot pain is reduced, I’m stronger and steadier on my feet, and I have greater stamina than I’ve had since … oh never mind when. I’m also told that I’ve lost some weight, but I refuse to weigh myself, so what-ev-er. I am the weight I am, and the scale would only make me feel driven or disappointed. Oh, I did have to take two pairs of pants in last week. So maybe I need to chalk that up as good news as well.
With the seemingly-endless anxiety and disappointment and expense and sadness that 2014 brought with it, I can count on one hand the really good stuff: one, friends, two, interesting volunteer work, and three, improved health. But wait, those three good things are major, and they affect every part of my daily life. And funny thing … they all just happen to be connected with “the enemy”, Psoriatic Arthritis. Now far be it from me to suggest that a diagnosis of PsA is a good thing! But in 2014 at least, it has brought me some wonderful blessings.
So that’s my expressive writing for today. And yes, I suppose that article is right: I do feel a bit better.