How Positive Thinking Helps Me Cope with Chronic Illness

By Ellen Lenox Smith

Recently, I had a column published on tips for coping with gastroparesis – a digestive disorder that interferes with the movement of food through the intestine.

Despite my research and best efforts to try all the advice I gave, I continued to have no success with elimination. My life was weekly colonics, along with home enemas on the other days.

After six months of my gut essentially being shut down, I finally went to a new doctor, to find out that the diagnosis of gastroparesis was incorrect. I was dealing instead with “motility issues” caused by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Feeling frustrated and discouraged, but also determined, I decided to try one more alternative treatment to see if I could find some relief.  

I found my old DVD of the “The Secret” and forced myself to once again listen carefully to what was being described, to see if this could turn things around. I had used this process before when I first had to retire, as I was experiencing excessive stress relative to our financial situation. I was so concerned how we would survive financially without my income.

Watching the DVD, I learned to understand that energy flows where attention goes, and that life is a product of our thoughts and feelings. It seemed nuts to me at the time, but I had nothing to lose and everything to gain if the process worked.

ellen lenox smith

ellen lenox smith

I began to focus on wanting to have enough money to pay our bills. And strangely enough, within a month, that stress over money seemed to leave me and I began to trust that things would fall into place.

Today, ten years later, I have remained calm about money, which still shocks me! This was not who I was before.

Now I was back to the drawing board to see if this could turn my motility issues around. Since energy flows to what you focus and think about, you have to train yourself not to focus on what you don’t want, but on what you are grateful for andwant in life.

To give this a try, I was to wake up each morning and spend a few minutes in bed thinking about what I am grateful for and then visualize what I want in life. Since it seems harmless and I needed help, I decided to try this process again.

About three weeks ago, I started doing this visualization, remembering what it was like to feel the sensation of having to eliminate and also the process of feeling the release. I know this sounds somewhat irrational, but after six months of nothing working, I was game for anything.

Within three weeks of trying it, I began to not only feel the sensation, but actually began to have success with elimination. All seems to be “on go” unless I eat foods that I react to or I’m under stress, both of which cause the GI system to shut down.  

My system has only shut down three times in the past three weeks. Something is changing and the results are thrilling and fill me with new hope.

Focusing on the positive and pushing negative situations out of the mind is not easy. Just look at the evening news! We wait until the end of the national news for one piece called “Making a Difference” that ends the broadcast with one positive report. Why don’t we sit and watch all positive things that have happened that day?

“The Secret” states: “Everything we think and feel is creating our future. If you’re worried or in fear, then you’re bringing more of that into your life throughout the day.”

What do you have to lose to give this a try? I now no longer stress about money and have added a successful movement of my gut again after six months of no success. I love how much more positive and hopeful I am feeling by practicing this simple process. Future goals to try will be imaging a walk on sand and in my yard,. along with driving again.  

Over the past eight years, I have utilized many conventional treatment modalities. Not all have proven successful, but I feel that I owe it to myself and my family to explore any treatment which might enhance the quality of my life.

Ellen Lenox Smith suffers from Ehlers Danlos syndrome and sarcoidosis. Ellen and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical marijuana advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation and serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition.

For more information about medical marijuana, visit their website.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.