9 Valuable Lessons Gained From Chronic Illness

9 Valuable Lessons Gained From Chronic Illness

(From August 20, 2014 )

Going into my sixth year living with a chronic illness, I consider myself experienced in meeting the challenges imposed by chronic illness. The term “chronic illness” doesn’t bother me and I no longer see my illnesses as a burden. Rather, I view them as a determinant of who I can become. Further, how I choose to cope determines the lessons I gain and how those lessons shape my very existence.

Here are nine valuable lessons that have shaped my life over the last six years.

Enjoy Life Even When It Hurts

There have been many occasions where I just didn’t feel motivated to follow through on plans with friends and family. But when I forced myself to get out and push past the pain, I was glad I got to enjoy that time and to make those memories. And yes, it is true that we should take care of ourselves — and there will be plenty of plans that do get cancelled — but we shouldn’t make canceling plans the norm. If you are going to be in pain, you might as well do the things you enjoy to help you forget. Trust me, your mind, body and soul will thank you.

I am Not Lazy

Getting the rest I need doesn’t make me lazy. If anything, it is a reminder that I am chronically ill. I deal with fogginess, fatigue, and pain daily and these symptoms force me to rest and conserve my energy. There have been times where I have pushed myself for fear of being called lazy and sometimes, I worry that if do less or rest more, I might actually be lazy. I have learned that my illnesses cause physical limitations and I can only give what I can give and nothing more. That doesn’t mean I am lazy. If anything, it means I do the best I can and often, it feels like I am giving more than others do.

Read more at http://www.arthritisconnect.com/arthritis-articles/435-9-valuable-lessons-gained-from-chronic-illness#0MJY33AroZ0kWzYX.97

7 Ways to Overcome Your Fears About Your Chronic Illness

Learn how to tame your worries about your health with these coping techniques.

7 Ways to Overcome Your Fears About Your Chronic Illness

Most of us worry about our health because we have loved ones to care for, we don’t want to be dependent on anyone, and we don’t want to give up the things we love. But when you have a chronic illness, you have even more to be concerned about regarding your health. You might feel angry, helpless, and even afraid.

I consider myself an expert on the fear brought upon by rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia because I have learned to overcome and manage my worries alongside my health challenges for the past eight years. I also know that being afraid is one of the most common reactions to forced changes, but it isn’t something you should let consume your life.

7 ways to overcome fears about your chronic illness

1. Do your research

People are afraid of what they don’t know. From the moment of diagnosis, invest time in understanding your symptoms and treatment options. Let your diagnosis be an opportunity for you to grow and learn more about your chronic illness, your body, and all the ways in which you can have a full and productive life despite your health issues.

2. Find the right doctor

When you have a chronic illness, the relationship with your doctor is one of the most important relationships you will ever have. A doctor who doesn’t take you seriously, doesn’t listen to you, isn’t knowledgeable about your disease, or gets easily frustrated with your questions will only worsen your fears and even your symptoms. The right doctor for you will act like your partner in your healthcare. Once you find that person, both your health and outlook on life will improve.

3. Know your life is not over

You are scared and might think your life cannot go on unless you can regain the health you had before chronic illness. Many things will change, but know that your life is not over. While it may be discouraging to see others do things you can’t, the ultimate goal of life is to be happy for ourselves and others. It is okay to grieve, but remember there is more out there. Know that ultimately you will be okay and won’t feel so overwhelmed by the challenges.

READ MORE AT http://www.diabeticconnect.com/diabetes-information-articles/general/2063-7-ways-to-overcome-your-fears-about-your-chronic-illness

Write About Your Experience to Help You Heal

Write About Your Experience to Help You Heal

Writing about difficult experiences, such as chronic illness and trauma, can be an effective way to ease emotional pain, stress, and worry. Moreover, the latest research shows that expressing your feelings in words can also speed up healing and ease physical pain.

The research

A 2013 study out of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, of 49 older adults asked half of its participants to write for 20 minutes a day over a two week period about their most traumatic experience. They were asked to be as open as possible about their feelings at the time and, in particular, concerns they had never shared with anyone. The other half of the group was asked to write for the same duration about their plans for the next day, without expressing any emotion.

Read more at http://www.rheumatoidconnect.com/rheumatoid-arthritis-articles/401-write-about-your-experience-to-help-you-heal#pX4acAVgbXdxDMMm.99

Moving Past the “Why Me?” Question

Moving Past the "Why Me?" Question

When you live with a chronic illness and all its related discomforts, “Why me?” is a question you ask often. Being sick is a personal thing, especially when it feels like you are being punished. If we feel pain and we feel as if we are suffering, then we ask this question.

But we don’t ask it when good things happen. Could you imagine saying, “Why me?” when it comes to happy events in your life? With illness and suffering, we have this tendency to believe that we did something to bring it upon ourselves. Additionally, we want an explanation for our pain and suffering and what we believe (mentally and spiritually) determines the extent of that suffering.

A Personal Example

When I was about nine years old, my mom was walking and was hit by a car. The next six months to a year of our lives involved watching her struggle to regain control of her body and there were times where it took its toll on her. As a kid, I never understood the extent that her pain had on us. She struggled, but she still managed to take care of us, spend time with us, make us meals, clean our home, etc. She did all these things despite her own ordeal, but we still saw the toll it took on her. I wonder if she ever asked “Why me?” Perhaps, she didn’t or maybe I wasn’t listening when she did. And if she did, was she ever able to answer that question? As an adult, I can recall her pain but as a child, I do not recalling asking “Why my mom?”

Read more at http://www.fibromyalgiaconnect.com/fibromyalgia-articles/19-moving-past-the-why-me-question#16zaT4kIEtg4Y2Py.99

7 Rules for Living Well With Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness doesn’t have to be hard

7 Rules for Living Well With Chronic Illness

A diagnosis of a chronic illness means you are sick and your illness is never going away. It is natural to feel a sense of injustice over the loss of something you thought you had control over. But living with chronic illness doesn’t have to be hard if we establish rules to make it easier.

Here are seven rules that have helped me to live well despite rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Rule 1: Trust Yourself to Find Answers

One of the most difficult things I dealt with in the ten plus years I was searching for answers was the possibility that all my symptoms were in my head. My being sick meant I had to trust in myself to find the right answers and not to let others deter me. There are going to be people along the way, including family, friends, and even members of the medical community, who will try to convince you that your symptoms are “all your head.” These people are ignorant and will never understand what your illness and symptoms are about. Don’t let their perceptions make you doubt yourself and your need for answers.

READ MORE.

Nine Ways to Cope with Fibromyalgia Brain Fog

Do you have fibro fog?

Nine Ways to Cope with Fibromyalgia Brain Fog

Are you forgetful? Do have trouble concentrating or speaking correctly? Do you often feel confused, fuzzy or detached? If so, you are likely experiencing a cognitive dysfunction that affects many with fibromyalgia. Referred to as fibro fog, cognitive issues can be frustrating to you and those around you.

They affect self-confidence and strain relationships. Fibro fog can also affect your ability to perform on the job and manage your daily life.

Most fibromyalgia patients experience some form of fibro fog. The symptoms of fibro fog are difficult and include being forgetful, feeling confused, being unable to concentrate, struggling with speech and even affect hand-eye movements. Each fibromyalgia sufferer will experience fibro fog differently and the fogs can come and go. Sometimes, you can have them with a fibro flare and other times, without.

READ MORE. 

When It Feels Like You Have Done It All

Learning to stay hopeful as you experience frustration and exhaustion from living with arthritis.

When It Feels Like You Have Done It All

Living with a chronic illness, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis or lupus, can be very frustrating. There is no one size fits all solution. Even when patients are following doctor’s orders, they can still struggle to manage their disease symptoms. And when treatments aren’t working, patients are left to wonder if they should just give up.

At the End of Your Rope

I suspect that many of you have reached a point where it feels as if you are tired, frustrated and at the end of your rope because the things you are doing to feel better just aren’t enough. Here is a typical comment I hear:

“I am in my 30s (or 40s or 50s), overweight, and living with depression, anxiety and worsening chronic illness symptoms despite proper diet, exercise and medication. I have tried everything under the sun to get my symptoms under control but I have had no luck. I am tired of not seeing results, getting my hopes up and going to all of the doctor’s appointments. What do you do when you feel like you have done it all to no avail?”

Like so many, I have left no stone unturned in moving towards a somewhat normal life where chronic illness does not dictate my actions. There have been times where I, too, have wanted to give up trying to figure out how to get well. And there have been times where I have flat out given up—for a little while, at least.

READ MORE.