Thursday, August 21, 2014

6 ways to feel more like a person when chronic illness is kicking your butt.

one of the thinks im kind of known for (at least in real life) is that i am chock full of stupid diseases. one thing i am definitely not known for, is having a good attitude about it. 

but its something ive been working hard to change lately. because somehow nearly a decade into not being able to live like a normal person (my super fun mystery health problems started showing up when i was like 15, and im going to be 25 soon, so yeah... almost a decade), ive finally accepted that while i cant control how my body feels at any given time, i can (at least try) to control how i react to my bodys stupidity. 

this has been especially important over the past couple of weeks, as my fibromyalgia joined forces with my unstable hormones to create the perfect superstorm of migraines (which ive never even had before), joint pain/swelling (to the point where my hands were essentially useless for DAYS), and two whole weeks of the worst. pms. ever (which should totally be illegal). all right before the new semester starts when i totally have a whole bunch of super important things to do RIGHT NOW. hooray. 

now, since ive recently spent quite a few days in bed with ice packs doing like one chore while alice watches tv and plays with the loudest possible toy she can find, ive obviously had a lot of time to think. i spent a lot of that time trying to think of ways to help myself not feel so crappy (emotionally) about how crappy i feel (physically). and i came up with a few ideas. 

which i thought id share, just in case any of you fellow spoonies out there (healthy people: yes, thats a thing) could use some ideas in this department. or at least a laugh at my expense. either way, im more than happy to help. 

so heres my list of ways to feel more like a human when chronic illness has you feeling like poop (i wasnt even going to try and fit that on a cute little graphic so just pretend its attached to this picture):

*note: i am (obviously) not a doctor and none of this is intended to be medical advice of any kind, simply a somewhat humorous list of my recently acquired coping skills*

1. get dressed. every day. in real clothes. i know you dont want to, but its really, really easy to give up on yourself that you couldnt possibly do anything of importance today if youre not even dressed to do anything of importance. so put on real pants, and embrace the hypothetical possibility that should you feel able to do something important, at least youre already dressed for it. 

2. put on lipstick. its really dumb how were supposed to have a reason for wearing lipstick. wearing lipstick for no reason makes me feel like coco chanel, like i can do anything. i highly recommend it. 

3. eat real food. this one is really hard because when youre weak and in pain the last thing you want to do is cook (or maybe your hands wont cooperate like mine were last week), but i promise that eating kettle corn and reeses cups all day is only going to make you feel worse. i speak from experience. 

4. lower your expectations. i have a really bad habit of guilt tripping myself for not keeping up with my usual workload (which to be completely honest is often a little unrealistic) when im not feeling well. dont do this. set the bar low, really low. like, "eat food and make sure that the other humans and animals in the house have eaten food also". then you dont have to feel bad about not accomplishing your goals for the day. 

5. do what you need to do, and dont feel bad about it. whether you have to ask for help, decline invitations, take a nap, spend way too much money on essential oils, take a break from work, neglect chores, complain to your friends, let your kid watch tv all day, wear sunglasses to church, or let your husband cook dinner (or all of the above), even though you hate, hate, hate to do any of those things. just do it. its not worth it to kill yourself trying to handle everything on your own if you cant. it also wont kill you to eat burned carrots. 

6. give yourself time to recover. dont expect to get right back into your normal grind as soon as you dont feel terrible anymore. baby steps. yesterday my mom took alice to the beach and i thought id bust out ALL THE THINGS. i ended up buying groceries, needing to ice my arms from carrying groceries, doing a couple chores, needing a nap, and then writing half a blog post before my headache got too bad and then turned on netflix while i waited for james to get home. it wasnt as much as i had hoped, but it was a lot more than i had done the day before (or the day before that). like i said, baby steps. 

so thats my list. 

even though this last flare has been probably one of the worst ive ever had, and as much as i wanted to spend the last two weeks getting the blog and shop back up and running before the fall semester starts (on monday!), im starting to feel better and things are moving along and the world is not ending. and, maybe this week i will get back into a normal workflow. 

do you live with chronic illness? whats your favorite way to make yourself feel better? id love to hear about it in the comments!

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