Living with Chronic Back Pain: Part 3

Reinventing Myself

Living with chronic back and leg pain

By Cathy Smith

Part 3: The Role of Journaling

Not being able to return to my old active self, I realized I needed to “reinvent myself”. I was newly retired and needed to learn to maintain a positive mindset and come up with new activities. My son gave me a journal with instructions to begin each day with jotting down 1) what I was grateful for, 2) what I was looking forward to, 3) what my purpose is (what are my passions), 4) set a few goals and a plan to reach them, 5) what can I do to help someone else or to thank someone, and 6) at the end of the day, reflect on my day.

With the help of my journaling, I decided to return to playing my flute. I started practicing and signed up as a volunteer with a local hospice to play my flute for patients. This has turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I also play at nursing homes and dementia units. The joy I receive from playing has been amazing and is a window where the back is pretty much forgotten!

Journaling helps me focus on all the positives in my life and has helped me figure out new passions to replace my old activities. I am not saying this has made my life 100% better. I have bad days when I think, “why is this happening to me?” Every time I go in spasms, I want to cry (and sometimes I do). 

Has anyone else tried journaling? Has it helped?

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