In my last post, I wrote about learning to re-incorporate movement and exercise back into my life after completely cutting it out (read about it here). A key part of this process was learning to modify exercises in a way that honored my body and met me where I was. In doing so, I was to start working out again, and, more importantly, I enjoyed doing so. However, an important piece of this journey wasn’t discussed; namely, I didn’t acknowledge the initial anger and frustration I felt at having to make modifications when I began to work out again. This blog post will focus on the anger and frustration I felt because of the modifications I had to incorporate into my everyday life.
Don’t forget to read until the end for this post’s #TLLCTuesdayTip!
Life Before Lichen Sclerosus
Before my Lichen Sclerosus started to flare and take over my life, I loved working out. I lifted weights, regularly attended Crossfit classes, did Pilates and yoga, swam, and took long walks. I worked out almost every day; working out and being active brought me so much joy. I genuinely loved it.
Working out and fitness were a major part of my identity. You can check out my fitness account on IG @jlanthi002.
However, as my Lichen Sclerosus symptoms progressed, they interfered more and more with my ability to work out, and, more importantly, it made it less enjoyable. I began to work out less and less because of the pain I was experiencing. After my Lichen Sclerosus diagnosis, I stopped working out altogether. I assumed working out and the friction it caused would only exacerbate my symptoms and cause my LS to flare.
Making Modifications: Enter the Anger
After discussing exercise with my gynecologist, I learned I would be able to do almost any workout I wanted, but I may need to modify some of my exercises. Furthermore, I would need to pay more attention to my body by being mindful of how my body is feeling before, during, and after a workout.
This sounds reasonable enough.
I wasn’t told I could never work out again. In fact, I was being told the opposite. I was encouraged to work out. I should have been happy and relieved with this news—I can still work out!—however, in spite of the seemingly good news, I was overcome with anger and frustration.
Anger and Frustration: How Lichen Sclerosus Can Affect Your Mental Health
Why was I so angry?
I was angry at having to think about modifications to begin with. Before Lichen Sclerosus, I didn’t have to have to modify exercises or think about additional protocols. I never had to bring containers of coconut oil to the pool or beach and make sure I had access to a shower afterward. However, now I had to think and plan for how activities would affect my vulva/LS. Before Lichen Sclerosus, if I was invited to the beach, I’d chuck a swimsuit and beach towel in my tote bag and head out the door. Now, being invited to a beach filled me with anxiety. I would have to consider a multitude of factors, like whether the beach had showers nearby, and what I needed to pack in a duffle to make sure I had everything I needed to manage my LS.
Anger and Simpler Easier Times
I felt frustrated that at the age of 33, I had to be mindful of such considerations at all. Why couldn’t I just go to the beach like everyone else my age? Why couldn’t I just walk into the gym and do whatever workout I wanted? Unlike before, I couldn’t just wear a thong, leggings, and do a bunch of side lunges. Instead, I needed to wear cotton underwear, loose shorts, make sure I applied emollient after, and modify lunges so my legs wouldn’t be too far apart.
I was frustrated and angry at my body; I felt let down. Things used to be so much simpler and lighter. Now, it seemed like I needed to consider a seemingly endless list every time I wanted to do something I loved.
I was angry all of this was taken away from me; frustrated my body was attacking itself and, consequently, like my joy was taken away from me.
The Importance of Anger: Why I do Not Believe in Quick Fixes
Now, you might be expecting me to cough up 5 simple tricks to overcome anger fast, but that will not be happening. In fact, I don’t believe quick-fix lists to be helpful at all. That is, oftentimes society puts so much pressure on instantly erasing unpleasant/negative feelings and emotions. We strive to extinguish the pain as quickly as possible. However, doing so is a band-aid solution, and often, we miss the important lessons these feelings and emotions are trying to teach us.
Feel Your Anger
If you find yourself in a similar position to me — where you are angry at your body for letting you down and/or resentful that you know have to make a bunch of modifications to how you live your life — my advice to you is as follows.
First, feel your anger and your frustration. Don’t rush the process of moving from anger and frustration to acceptance. It is not a linear, one-size-fits-all process, so remember moving past your anger will take however long it takes for you to process. It’s unpleasant, but know you are strong enough to stay in this space and honor where you are
Listen to your Anger
Second, listen to your anger. For example, ask yourself some of the following questions:
“Where do I feel the anger in my body?”
“How much space does the anger take up?”
“What is my anger saying or asking of me?”
In my case, when I listened to my anger, I realized an important lesson: it showed me what I value in life. I value movement and joy; I value my body. Further, I was angry because my Lichen Sclerosus created a wedge between my values and my body. This was my lesson and I sat with it for the time it took for the feeling to settle and eventually subside.
Working Through Your Anger with a Therapist
Third, talk with a professional, like a pain counselor or therapist, to help guide you through the process of working through your anger and frustration.
Most of my healing occurred by talking with my sex therapist and participating in a program called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy through the pain program at my local hospital.
*I plan to do a few blogs on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and how they can help you reclaim your life as a Lichen Sclerosus Warrior and how to live a life full of value in the future, so definitely keep your eyes posted.
In conclusion, I can now exercise and be active with a few modifications. These modifications are now second nature to me, and I barely give them any thought. Once again, I can find joy in movement and exercise and live a life that aligns with my values. However, it wasn’t always this simple. I first needed to acknowledge, listen to, and work with feelings of anger that accompanied these changes in my life.
Get In Touch with Me; Share Your Thoughts!
Have you felt angry and frustrated with the changes and modifications you’ve had to make because of your Lichen Sclerosus? Let me know in the comments below or feel free to contact me via social media. I would love to hear from you!
#TLLCTuesdayTip: Don’t rush through your feelings. As awful and overwhelming as they can feel, it is important to stay with them so you can really work towards healing.