Coping with My Chronic Illnesses: Some Thoughts (01)

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“Those great wars which the body wages with the mind a slave to it, in the solitude of the bedroom against the assault of fever or the oncome of melancholia, are neglected. Nor is the reason far to seek. To look these things squarely in the face would need the courage of a lion tamer; a robust philosophy; a reason rooted in the bowels of the earth.” – Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill.

There are some days that you feel ill from the very moment you wake up. Your body is waging a war with your mind. How can you face it? You know something is not right; you’re unhealthy. You’re not at the top shape you know you could be if your body and/or your mind wasn’t failing you. The constant onslaught of a chronic illness is enough to drive people crazy, and as Woolf puts it: “To look these things squarely in the face would need the courage of a lion tamer; a robust philosophy; a reason rooted in the bowels of the earth.” Finding that reason can be hard, but it’s achievable. And then it’s being gritty and persisting in the direction you want your life to continue going despite the uncertainty of how the illness affects you on the timeline it affects you.

I can only plan as appropriately as I can, even if it’s not that far in advance, but that’s okay. I’m going by my timeline because my timeline involves being chronically ill that has no pattern beyond being every day. The intensity of the illnesses aren’t always the same on a day to day basis, but even on the better days, dealing with the illnesses is still stressful.

Still, slowly, you must fight on through the chronic illness. It’s tempting to give up. There’s nothing sweeter than temptation. I want to give up a lot, but I can’t. I refuse to. Taking each day, sometimes each hour, one at a time and slowing down is what’s best for me. That’s all I can handle sometimes, and that’s alright. Sometimes I’m so hard on myself even when everyone is telling me to take it easy. Truly, sometimes, you are your worst critic. Practicing self-compassion is another strategy to help with this.

Sometimes, my mind is hazy in the morning. It feels like I can’t quite understand what’s going on and nothing registers in me because of it. This feeling doesn’t last long, but sometimes it’s a little scary in retrospect. Moreover, my anxiety heightens the scariness as well when I can’t get it under control. Trying these coping methods helps a little, but ultimately when things are really bad, catharsis by crying and praying is the only thing that helps me feel remotely any better. Once the emotions are drained, it’s then possible to look at solutions as to how I can make myself comfortable while dealing with the chronic illness. For me, the pain won’t go away, but I can deal with it by not making it the center of every thought by trying to do the things that I need to get done or do my hobbies like reading or my language learning activities.

Regardless, things have been looking up emotional-wise. I’m glad that things have slowly gotten better over the past few weeks in all my personal relationships even if my physical health is deteriorating to balance out the emotional stability that I’ve slowly gained. However, I do my best to not allow my illnesses to interfere with my personal development as much as possible, and this blog helps me stay accountable while being a place where I feel willing to write down my thoughts.

My goal of self-improvement (among other goals) stems from wanting to have a better relationship with God, my SO, and myself as I deal with the fact that I’m more than likely won’t ever escape my chronic illnesses like I wished desperately to when I was a little girl. It’s a continuous challenge, especially as my illnesses sometimes dominates my mind and body, but as I stated before, achievable. As Albert Einstein said: “You never fail until you stop trying.” I’ll only fail at my goal when I stop trying so as I don’t like failing, I obviously can’t stop trying.

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