You Can’t Stop the Waves, But You Can Learn to Surf

by Krissy Ward

     Learning to adjust and adapt to a life change can be scary and overwhelming. When I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, years ago, I was lost in the sauce, didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have anyone to turn to who I felt like would get me.

     Living with a chronic illness is a constant cycle of changing symptoms and you’re forced to find new ways to deal with pain and fatigue.

     Changing my perspective was key. Changing the way I viewed my situation and limitations wasn’t easy but definitely beneficial. Getting rid of and or limiting biased ideas and thoughts that life would be perfect if only you weren’t sick will open your eyes and mind to appreciating what you can do and have done.

     My advice is to stop comparisons at all costs. Your life and experiences are unique to you. Acknowledge and give yourself credit for doing the best you can every day. Easier said than done, I know. I’m still struggling with this myself. It’s muscle building, self encouragement will become second nature.

     Chronic illnesses can be super isolating.  It’s always nice to have someone in your corner. Finding a community or a safe place is essential when you’re dealing with unrelenting pain and fatigue. Asking for and accepting help is essential too, something else I’m still working on, but I’m getting there.

     Also, know that it is not your fault that you have health problems. You will only make things worse by self blaming and adding extra guilt.

     Having a chronic illness means you have to be meticulous in all aspects of your life. You have to intentionally do more of the things that make you happy. You have to be intentional about doing things that make you smile because chronic pain will steal time and joy EASILY and not think anything else about it. Be intentional about spending time with the kids and grandkids, even if it’s just a movie night, adjust fun time to fit your needs. Having something to do makes coping a lot easier. Give your mind something else to do other than think focusing on the negative.

      Speaking of thinking negatively... please be kinder to yourself. Having a chronic illness can beat you up enough, you don’t need the negative self talk to make things worse. Talk to yourself  the way you would talk to a good friend. Remember that you are doing the very best you can. While it may feel like everything is out of your control, some things are in your control, like reacting or overreacting to stress or allowing certain stressors in your life. But know that sometimes you can do everything right and it may still not be enough. Chronic illnesses are a bitch. They want ALL the attention. You just have to figure out how to fit having a chronic illness into your life, cause you got things to do.

     Overtime, you will learn what works best for you; Listening to your body is key. You can ignore it from time to time to have some fun, but remember that self care is not a luxury, it is a priority especially when you’re chronically ill.