Finding a Healthy Way to Cope With My Dystonia


I haven’t really taken the time to explain how I cope with living with dystonia on a day-to-day basis. I am very much of the mindset that you are in the driver’s seat, and you manifest your life through your thoughts and actions. I guess the relevance to the point I am trying to make is that I decided a long time ago that I was going to be in the driver’s seat and not a passenger to my own life. I had been dealt this hand and I was going to play it to the best of my advantage.

In the early days of having dystonia I really struggled to cope. What I am  now going to tell you is something not many people know. Being 23 years of age, at my ultimate peak in life, to then so suddenly having to deal with the huge punch in the face that is dystonia was often very overwhelming. I struggled a great deal.

Unfortunately, some of my coping mechanisms weren’t the best. I took a dangerous path that could have easily become very destructive if I had not pulled myself together. I found myself in a very dark hole and I had nobody to turn to. I was very alone, having no real family network I could rely on. Unfortunately, my relationship with my father in recent years has been a difficult one, after losing my mother when I was just 15 years of age. I did not feel I could approach him for a shoulder to lean on. He supported me the best way he knew how, but not in the way I needed so much at the start.

Feeling so alone at this time, I turned to the things that, for a moment, numbed the emotional pain I was feeling but also gave me a boost of confidence. I don’t think I really need to spell out what I am relating to. I spent a good year being quite destructive to my emotional and physical well-being and it took a lot of strength and a good, hard talking to myself to realize that this was not the path I wanted to take nor the one I had imagined for myself. It was time to make a change and face some demons head on.

It was at this time I accepted my dystonia. This was the moment I changed for the better. Immersing myself into my new lifestyle, keeping in shape has been a great beacon for me. Not only has it kept me in physical shape, but most importantly it has kept those dreaded demons at bay. I must admit I am slightly obsessive about it at times, but I would also say – and you will hopefully agree – it’s not a bad obsession to have. On a very serious note, the way I have designed my lifestyle is my lifeline.

muscular man in tank top working out at the gym

Don’t get me wrong: not every day is plain sailing and I still have many days of doubt. But what I will say is that having the opportunity to express myself to you guys is absolutely amazing. I no longer feel alone in my journey with dystonia. These are some of the things that give me strength and keep me moving forward. I am so very lucky to be surrounded by the overwhelming love and support of the ones who care for me the most; without them I would be lost. Sometimes its the simplest things in life that make things clear to me and make me realize how lucky I am to be alive. Yes, I have dystonia, but so what? Dystonia does not control me, it does not define me and, most importantly, it does not dictate to me.

So with that said, I look forward to sharing my journey with you all. I hope to give a positive insight into my lifestyle and my coping mechanisms. You can look forward to snippets of my training routines, diet and also what I do with my downtime. To finish, I would like to leave you with this quote:

“Surrender to what is, let get of what was, and have faith in what will be.” –Sonia Ricotti

Any comments or questions are very welcome!

This post originally appeared on In the Life of James Sutliff.

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