I recently met Alexandra through the Fibro Bloggers Directory. She has only recently been diagnosed with fibro; however, when you hear her story you will see that she has been suffering for quite some time.
NOTE: It’s Legacy Link-up time. Once your finish reading the interview, be sure to link-up your own uplifting post this month.
1. Share the short story of your chronic pain journey. What is your diagnosis? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.
My chronic illness journey set off when my feet were swollen (individually at different years) in college. My podiatrist reassured me that lymphedema is not something to worry about. He said that I should just keep my feet elevated. He didn’t see it as a big deal, so I didn’t either. (One of my feet is still swollen…!). At that time I was going through a period of depression because of my low self-esteem.
My depression transformed into anxiety when I contracted TMJ Disorder and pain from my neck, shoulder, wrists, knees, etc. I literally thought that I was going to die because of my pain. I had vivid nightmares of my body becoming flat, shapeless, and deformed! Finally, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2019. So, that cleared up some of my questions about my nerve pain and other symptoms. But it was very hard to see me as a young woman in her 20s who has a chronic illness.
2. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get Stronger?
My father had recently passed away from cancer, so this made my own chronic illness harder to manage. I didn’t know what was going on with my body, my life, my mind. How was God present in all this? “Not knowing” what God was doing or if He was even with me throughout my struggles made it hard for me to trust in Him. I consider myself a very faithful woman, but to be honest with you, my physical challenges caused me to doubt His presence. Although I was doubting God, there was still a little internal nudge that pushed me to not lose hope.
3. Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?
Throughout my experience of desolation from God, I turned to poetry which I eventually published in 2019. The publishing process of my book, “Songs of Freedom”, was a spiritual and emotional healing process. Writing and publishing my book helped me to face chronic trauma from my childhood memories that shed light on my negative and unreal perceptions of myself.
I sat with my thoughts and feelings and intentionally invited God to sit with me. This was a turning point for me because, for the first time, I was truly and authentically seeing God as my Father and not as an unruly dictator in my life. This unveiling process of my subconscious mind helped me to also start the healing process from my relationship with my dad who had passed away.
I, now, wholeheartedly, believe in the power of my thoughts. For me, chronic illness showed up due to unmanaged anxiety and unresolved chronic trauma in my life. All this time, I had a laser focus on physical healing when it was really my mind that needed the healing.
Although my body was still experiencing intense pain and stiffness, a little door of freedom was being opened in my mind and it was helping me to have a different relationship with my chronic pain issues.
4. What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey? Why?
It’s hard to pick one scripture verse….but the Passion of Christ has been near and dear to my heart in my journey because of the pain and suffering Jesus actually went through for me and for you. Imagining Jesus looking into my eyes as he carries the big and heavy cross all the way to Calvary sends me shivers to my spine. And it makes me think of his love that never gets tired of me.
5. How do you find comfort on especially painful days?
On especially painful days, practicing gratitude has saved me from playing the victim of my pain. I try to be as accepting of the situation as much as possible; choosing not to fight with my pain. I want to respect my journey, my body, and even my pain, so if I need the rest, I choose to love my body by giving it the rest it needs. God wants me to take care of my body and my health conditions. I can be grateful to cooperate with Him in this little “reroute” in my day. It’s definitely not easy, and it takes prayer, practice, and consistency to create the mindset of gratitude and surrender of one’s chronic illness (or anything!).
6. What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?
This is a really good question. Sometimes it’s good to distract your mind from your pain, so they are so helpful in picking out movies, praying with me, making me a nice smoothie, or just hanging out with me. Company is such a gift when you are going through pain. Especially if they understand or try to understand your chronic illness.Company is such a gift when you are going through pain. #fibromyalgia Click To Tweet
7. Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this.
I recently started a blog called The Acceptance Journey which focuses on the mental and spiritual wellbeing of people with chronic illness. From my blog, I hope to build a community in which we can share about our relationship with our chronic illnesses: is it positive or negative? Our relationship with our own chronic illness and the perception we have of our own chronic illness can positively or negatively impact the healing process. I hope that The Acceptance Journey can be a source of light and inspiration for those who feel like a victim of their illnesses.
8. Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey.
No matter how bad your chronic pain is, it can be a big wall or a big door in your life. It’s up to you to decide if you are going to let chronic pain stop you from living the life you are called to live or to walk through that door and see what good things are in store for you. It’s a daily decision.
Jesus says, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Yes, Jesus calls you to live an abundant life–even with your chronic pain.It's Your Choice ~ Is #chronicpain a wall or a door? #fibro Click To Tweet
How does that look? It’s going to look different for each person because we are all unique, but don’t resign to a life that lacks peace, joy, order, freedom, creativity, connection, and God’s loving Fatherhood.
Thank you, Alexandra, for your encouraging words! I’m looking forward to following your blog, The Acceptance Journey, and getting to know you better.
Readers might also be interested in Alexandra’s poetry.
She has already published a book of poems. I downloaded a sample from Amazon and my first impression is that she is quite a poet. Check it out on the link below.
IT’S YOUR TURN!
It’s Legacy Link Up Time. Share one or two of your favorite posts about Leaving a Legacy. It’s could be a biography review or a Bible Study or a personal testimony. We look forward to reading your post. Remember to read, comment, and share on your neighbor’s post as well.
Alexandra Henry is a Dominican-American woman from the Bronx, NY. She has a background in social work and has a blog called the Acceptance Journey that supports the mental and spiritual wellbeing of people with chronic illness. Alexandra’s chronic illness journey inspired her to publish a book of poems called “Songs of Freedom” which highlights times of desolation and consolation as she rediscovers God as a Loving Father.