I’ve been working on creating a tip sheet for working with chronic illness and this is what I have thus far and thought I would share. (They are only random because it turns out I like to use the word random a lot!)
Tips for Living With A Chronic Illness
1 – It is Ok to grieve. Grieving means you acknowledge the changes and will be able to embrace moving forward. Know that grief will come and go and will generally lesson over time.
2 – Accept your illness. It is what it is and accepting doesn’t mean you are happy with your illness but that you can understand that life sucks sometimes and that you have the strength to go on and even be happy.
3 – Stay productive. You are tired and in pain and you just want to feel better. Keeping a job or going out with the grandkids or spending time gardening may seem like impossible tasks. Keeping active will improve your mood and even your health exponentially. Try to do what you can.
4 – Take responsibility for your health. Not only do you know yourself best, only you can follow the doctor’s recommendations. Sometimes with an illness it is easy to feel like everyone has control over your life. You may constantly be given directions such as “go take this test” or “don’t eat that” or “its not a big deal, it will only take a few hours.” Take back the control. This is your life. It is not up to anyone else but you.
5 – Connect with your spirituality. You are more than your illness. Try connecting with whatever you believe in and try finding solace and comfort. This can be an opportunity for self-reflection and looking at the bigger picture as it pertains to you.
6 – Accept help from others. It is easy to say “I’m ok, I can do it.” Most of the time when people offer to help they really want to help. Give them an opportunity. It is not a weakness to let someone help you out.
7 – Let yourself have bad days. Everyone, if they are healthy or sick, have rough days. Forgive yourself for having bad days. Remember bad days or times will pass. A bad moment doesn’t mean all day will be horrible and a bad day doesn’t mean there won’t be good days and moments coming up.
8 – Find joy where you can. It may seem cliché but if you look you can find moments of joy all over the place. The colors of the trees, clean sheets, the smell of cookies, hearing your favorite song, a hello from a friend, a funny cartoon, your dog being happy to see you, your child saying something hilarious – to just name a few. Maybe it is just time to yourself or a short time without pain. Work at recognizing and honoring moments of joy when they occur.