By Samantha Anderson
Living with CRPS makes holidays stressful. Valentine’s Day is a whole other topic. Sometimes, we are our own Valentine, while other times we may not feel up to going along with our Valentine’s plans. How can we adapt to make the most of this day about love?
Valentine’s Day can be a stressful day for those of us living with CRPS. Some of us get a little down because we cannot do the things we would like to do to celebrate this day of love. Others may get down because their relationships may have changed over the course of their time with CRPS. This year, I am personally sending the self-love Cupid to everyone with CRPS’ house so we can all focus on taking care of ourselves this Valentine’s Day. To love another means that you have to love yourself first. Loving yourself can take a lot of work, especially when you are enduring pain. That does not make it impossible. How can we work towards loving ourselves this Valentine’s Day?
I am going to be completely honest with everyone today. I struggle with severe depression. It has gotten worse over the past year. I became a shell of myself. With the help of a few loved ones and some exercises that I’ve implemented myself, I’ve come out of the dark cave I was living in. I saw that I could not be the best daughter, wife, aunt, cousin, friend, niece, granddaughter, or worker when I secluded myself to the dark cave. One of the things I love most about life is making sure other people know how much I love them. To do that, I had to love myself more than I had been. Sometimes, I return to it, but I’m making sure this self-love Cupid comes my way, too. While these tips are little things I’ve done or intend to do, if you are feeling depressed this Valentine’s Day, please seek medical attention. It is so important. I care about this entire community and I want you to love yourselves as much as I love all of you!
The first thing I want everyone to do is write a list. This list should be a mix of positive words that you associate with yourself, great things you have done, and things that make you who you are. If you need help with this, ask someone you know and love to help you. Or, go back to those lists that we used to do in primary school that require a word for each letter of your name. For example, I could do: S- Smart, A-Affectionate, M- Motivated… and so on and so forth. Fill an entire page of a notebook. It may take a bit, but you will get there.
Next, I want you to find song lyrics, movie/television quotes, and mantras that make you feel good. If you have sticky notes, write them down on sticky notes. If you don’t, write them on small pieces of paper. Once you write at least 10, keep them in a pocket and scatter them as you move to different rooms in your house. Put them in sock drawers, medicine cabinets, in the case of your favorite movie, in the fridge, etc. These will be reminders of happy things that you may find on days you need it the most. You can switch these out every few months. It sounds silly, but it helps.
Take a look in the mirror. I know a lot of us feel like we do not look how we want or how we once did. But look in the mirror. Think of three “I am” statements. This can go back to what you wrote on the paper. If you can, use a power pose as you say it (hands on your helps, arms outstretched, etc.). Say these statements out loud while looking yourself in the eyes. For example, tomorrow, I will say: “I am my own beautiful, I am fierce, I am passionate.” After you say your three statements, then say your name. I would say: “I am Samantha and today is my day.”
If you are going to be your own Valentine today, which I recommend even if you have a significant other, try to do something that you love, but do not get to do often. Do you like to read a book while listening to music? Do that! Do you like to do a craft that requires all of your concentration? Do that! Have you been wanting to binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix? Do that! Maybe do this while enjoying your favorite food or a food you do not have often. Sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself.
If you were going to go out, but your pain is too bad today, do not feel guilty. Tell your significant other what is going on and plan a low-key evening in. Ask for them to light some candles, order food from a local delivery place, put on a rom-com on television (or a horror film if that is your cup of tea). Sit with each other and just talk. Talk about what you love about each other, about the first time you met, about completely hypothetical situations (i.e. if we won the lottery, what are the first five things you would buy and why?), just talk! It is even more special than spending a crazy amount of money on Valentine’s Day specials. Bonus: if you did not get to buy chocolate for Valentine’s Day, it is always on sale the day after. Hello, bargain bin! I’m coming for you!
No matter what you do this Valentine’s Day, just remember that you are amazing. Every day, I get to speak with so many fellow CRPS warriors. As someone that has been living with this since I was a young teen, I get the frustrations and why we all can get down on ourselves. But, we have the amazing power to lift each other up. I’m not opposed to a post-Valentine’s Day CRPS-Valentine Card Swap with the entire community. Mail has always made me smile (except bills). Reach out to a fellow CRPSer this Valentine’s Day and tell them they are loved!