My Number One Tip for Living Well with GP
In the May newsletter, I gave you nine of my top ten tips for living (well!) with GP. Here’s number one:
Get Off the Ship
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. – Elanor Roosevelt
Every morning I sit down with my cup of coffee and a fantastic book by Patti Digh called Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful and Live Intentionally. As I read through the lesson of the day and complete the corresponding journal exercise, I often think about how it applies to living (well!) with GP. Recently I came across one that struck me as particularly relevant.
The lesson begins with the Elanor Roosevelt quote above and continues with a story from Digh’s stint as a counselor on a Semester at Sea cruise. As the ship made it’s way around the world, Digh noticed that one student never disembarked at the ports of call. One day Digh asked the young woman why she chose to stay on the ship when once-in-a-lifetime opportunities awaited her on land. The student’s response? She was afraid that if she got off the ship, she might get lost.
Those with gastroparesis are often consumed with fear. Fear of eating, fear of flare ups, fear of never getting better, fear of socializing, fear of traveling, fear of not being taken seriously…the list goes on. Ironically, it’s often the fear — not the condition — that limits us. Just as the fear of getting lost kept that student holed up in the “safety” of her floating classroom, fear keeps many GPers trapped within the confines of malnutrition, exhaustion, illness and/or loneliness.
Digh’s challenge to her reader, and my challenge to you, is to get off the ship. Acknowledge the ways in which your GP-related fears are holding you back from better managing your symptoms, improving your overall health, or leading a more fulfilling life…and then do something about it. Are you afraid to vary your diet because you might get sick? Try one new GP-friendly food this week. Afraid to exercise because you might feel worse? Take a walk around the block after dinner and see what happens. Afraid to try a new treatment because it might not work? Consider the implications of not trying. Afraid to put your needs first because others might think you’re lazy or selfish? Make self-care your top priority for one day and see how you feel.
I’m certainly not encouraging you to be reckless. “Getting off the ship” isn’t about eating or doing things that you know aren’t good for you. It’s about stepping outside of your comfort zone in order to acknowledge and address the fears that are keeping you from a happier, healthier life. While you must always respect your limitations and make smart choices, you might be surprised just how much your world opens up once you step off the “gastroparesis ship.”
6 Responses to “My Number One Tip for Living Well with GP”
Leave a Reply