Turning Our Captivity Around
Hepatitis C is hard. The disease is hard, but perhaps the hardest part is the stigma, shame, and hurt in relationships it causes. Isn’t it always that way. Losing a job, being forced to move, death, life, war…all of those things are only as difficult as the relationship problems they cause.
I don’t know that my husband could be any more loving and supportive regarding my hepatitis C journey. He took over the care of our 8-week old when I suffered complications of Hepatitis C that put me in the hospital for a month and in bed on oxygen for over a year. He also took over all of my other duties, my other 5 kids, the housework, food, bills, and business. James never missed a beat. He missed a lot of work and sleep to take care of me but he never resented it, never complained. He made sure everyone around me gave me the best care. I remember James would leave instructions on the whiteboard in my hospital room for my doctors and nurses. Often in a joking manner but it let them know he was watching and making sure I was taken care of. He shielded me from the pain of hurtful family reactions, called a Pastor to come pray for me, he did it all. The only negative I can think of is that to this day is that some of my younger boys only grudgingly endure underwear. James made sure my kids were fed, warm, and somewhat dressed.
Finding the Support You Need
I don’t have a big community of support but my family supports me in a big way. I understand there are many people in the hepatitis C who have no one. This stinks. It shouldn’t be this way. Family, neighbors and our churches really need to do better, and yet they don’t. A few things to consider that may help fill the void are Internet forums, like here on HepatitisC.net. My friend, Ronni, facilitates several in-person support groups around the country. Finding a good church. I recently signed up for online counseling that may be helpful.
Another thing I have found helpful, although I am more of a beginner than an expert at trying this idea, is to actually force yourself to give rather than focusing on what you really need to take. I know it’s hard and at times unrewarding to consider others when we ourselves need consideration, but it is at times our only option. Other than hunkering down in our PJs, in the basement, watching soap operas, surfing the web, allowing bitterness to grow because people are often selfish, unfair, and disconnected.
I personally like a motivational speaker named Simon Sinek. He has given several Ted Talks and written several books about how we can inspire cooperation, trust, and change. I have used his idea here: “The next time someone starts listing all the reasons an idea won’t work or can’t happen, ask them to give 3 reasons it can.” He shares that there identifiable chemicals that determine happiness. All of them are released when we give/exert ourselves in some capacity. Isn’t that interesting? The key to getting fulfillment is to give? Beyond Simon’s science is an even more reliable document sharing this profound truth. Jesus Himself said it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Understanding the Biology Behind Emotions
- Endorphins- Diminishes our perceptions of pain. Keeps us going during work-outs, gives us a “runner’s high”, and helps us to endure difficulties. Good for those late nights, 70+ hour weeks, and back-breaking middle seats.
- Dopamine. Motivates us to achieve incremental goals. Rewards motivated behavior. Kind of like the “greed” function of our brain. Makes us feel good when we check things off the “to do list” or get through project milestones. Highly addictive.
- Serotonin. Provides the feeling of significance, pride, status. It drives us to seek the recognition of others. Want to do it “for my mom, my boss, my wife.” It reinforces the sense of relationships with the group, allegiance. Simon Sinek calls this the Leadership chemical and what creates a sense of allegiance and organizational cohesion.
- Oxytocin. Creates intimacy, trust; feeling that someone will protect you. Moms, babies, lovers feel this when they are protected and loved. Feeling of safety.
The only way I know of to turn my own captivity around is to free the captives I see throughout my day. Captive is a strong word but appropriate because loneliness and that feeling of betrayal can be like being stuck in prison. Captive. I believe we may hold the key to our own door of captivity, by serving others generously with our very best efforts.