Amongst other things, GVHD negatively affects the GI tract leading to system distress and loss of appetite. Loss of appetite leads to lack of nutrition and weight loss and fatigue and eventually Failure To Thrive…which leads to lack of exercise which further perpetuates fatigue.
It’s a vicious circle. The answer seems simple. Eat more. Eat better. Exercise. Or the doctor’s answer: steroids (and mania, induced diabetes, and sleeplessness). In the end, it is a combination of the will of the mind and the will of the body and spirit. In any case, you have to find a way to break the cycle.
What vicious circles do you experience? Feeling depressed about body image (or any other host of things) often leads to compensation eating (overeating and eating poorly) which in turn amplifies feelings of negative self-worth and depression. Pain causes stress, anxiety, and worry which further exacerbate pain. Wrong behavior leads to guilt which should lead to repentance and forgiveness and renewal. But sometimes we let guilt lead us to despair and more wrong behavior, thinking what’s the point?
But there is a point; an important one. The cycle must be broken. And it can be. People enter rehab to break the cycle of substance addiction and abuse. Others make a determined choice to break the cycle of divorce, abuse, shame, or other destructive practices. Doctors sometimes put patients into an induced medical coma to break the cycle of injury and pain to allow the body to begin a work of restoration.
Our lives look like the repeated story in the Old Testament. We turn to the world and forget God for a while. We turn away from God and find trouble. God brings us to repentance and we find restoration…until we turn to the world and forget God again. Over and over the cycle continues.
The first step to breaking any negative cycle is to recognize it for what it is. But like the frog in the pot of water we don’t always recognize the dilemma we’re in. We need to ask God’s perspective to show us where we are. (Search my heart O Lord.)
A second step is bringing our thoughts and behaviors to God’s courtroom. This may include negative behaviors we use to compensate for our hurts such as blaming others, being cynical or sarcastic, passive-aggressiveness, shying away from conflict, blaming ourselves for others behavior. The list goes on to include worry, false guilt, anxiety, self-condemnation, isolation, and neglecting the Word of God.
Having submitted our thoughts and behaviors to God, our third step to breaking the cycle is turning our focus to where He is at work in our lives: seeing our tasks and people around us through His eyes. God’s on others on our path takes us away from self and away from negativity that deludes us and steals our joy.
Breaking a downward cycle is never easy. There.are.no.simple.platitudes.to.wish.it.away.
Sometimes you need help from others who will be honest with you and tell you what you think you don’t want to hear. In the end (and in the beginning!) we need God to rescue us. Turning to Him is always the right step.