Rewrite Your Experience of Depression and Chronic Pain

Step 7 of Dr. Lavine’s Ten Step Program to Conquer Chronic Illness

Phys­i­cal exhaus­tion and low mood, often insep­a­ra­ble from chron­ic pain, shouldn’t be ignored.  In fact, sur­veys of fibromyal­gia suf­fer­ers show that more than 80% expe­ri­ence an almost over­whelm­ing lev­el of fatigue that at times is worse than the pain.

The emo­tion­al aspect of phys­i­cal fatigue is depres­sion.

Of course, fatigue and depres­sion are com­plex, and self-help guide­lines such as these can’t pos­si­bly address your unique indi­vid­ual issues.  I also rec­om­mend that you con­sult your per­son­al physi­cian, nutri­tion­ist, or men­tal health pro­fes­sion­al as appro­pri­ate.

For Step 7 of Dr. Lavine’s Ten Step Pro­gram to Con­quer Chron­ic Ill­ness, I rec­om­mend two self-help strate­gies.  One is a sim­ple method to address dis­tor­tions of your mood.  The sec­ond involves test­ed sleep strate­gies to improve the quan­ti­ty and qual­i­ty of sleep.

I’ll describe the first of these strate­gies in this arti­cle and the sec­ond in a sub­se­quent one.  But for a more com­pre­hen­sive approach, and to receive the indi­vid­u­al­ized coach­ing that will give you the best chance of suc­cess, please sub­scribe to Dr. Lavine’s entire Ten Step Pro­gram to Con­quer Chron­ic Ill­ness.  Then you can work on the ten steps in a log­i­cal sequence and make sure you’re get­ting the max­i­mum ben­e­fit.

Rewrite Your Mood

You’ll engage in a dai­ly prac­tice by which you’ll learn to lit­er­al­ly rewrite your mood.  It will only take you at most 20 min­utes a day, so fix a con­sis­tent dai­ly time to prac­tice your mood rewrit­ing.

Write down up to four sen­tences that describe a neg­a­tive aspect of your emo­tion­al expe­ri­ence.  For instance, if you’re hav­ing a real­ly mis­er­able day, you might write: “I have so much pain I can’t stand it”, or “Today I didn’t even feel like get­ting out of bed in the morn­ing,”  or “There’s no one who even cares how I feel.”

Leave a few blank lines between each state­ment.  It’s okay if you have only one or two sen­tences you want to write.  But lim­it your­self to a max­i­mum of four.

Next to each state­ment, assign a num­ber from 1 to 10 that mea­sures how strong­ly you’re feel­ing that emo­tion.

Then, below each sen­tence, write a counter-bal­anc­ing sen­tence.  For instance, if you wrote “I have so much pain I can’t stand it,” your counter-bal­anc­ing sen­tence could be “I have a lot of pain, but the med­ica­tion I’m tak­ing does alle­vi­ate the pain a lit­tle.” Or you could write, “I’m in intense pain today, but tomor­row may not be this bad.”

Your counter-bal­anc­ing sen­tence doesn’t have to total­ly wipe away the neg­a­tive feel­ing.  Don’t pre­tend every­thing is won­der­ful if it isn’t.  Just write some­thing that mod­i­fies or brings per­spec­tive to your sit­u­a­tion, even if only a lit­tle.

Then save your work.  You’re fin­ished for the day.  You’ll repeat the exer­cise again the next day.

Too often, neg­a­tive emo­tions try to take over your entire being.  As grim as your cir­cum­stances might be, there will still be some glim­mer of pos­i­tiv­i­ty in your sit­u­a­tion.  By con­sis­tent­ly bring­ing your aware­ness to bal­anc­ing thoughts, you’ll soon find that your neg­a­tive thoughts hold less sway over your psy­che.

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About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website, askdrlavine.com, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at drlavine@yourbodyofknowledge.com or at 212-400-9663.

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