Tonight, I am welcoming a guest post from the wonderfully lovely Sarah over at Raiin-Monkey, please check out her blog.
Hi everyone! My name is Sarah, I’m 23 years old and I’m a lifestyle blogger over at Raiin Monkey. I am a spoonie, which means that I suffer from chronic health conditions. I have fibromyalgia, a complex chronic illness which causes many symptoms, with the most common being pain all over the body, throughout the musculoskeletal system, and fatigue. As well as fibromyalgia, I also have irritable bowel syndrome (a chronic gastrointestinal condition), generalised anxiety disorder and depression. The lovely Estelle asked me to share my thoughts on whether having a positive attitude towards my chronic illness has an impact on how I deal with them. I thought this was a really interesting topic and over the last month, I’ve been paying close attention to how my mood and overall attitude affects how I deal with life as a spoonie to share with you all. I hope that my personal experiences can be helpful to others who are living with chronic illnesses and/or disabilities and I hope you enjoy reading.
When it comes to my health conditions, I always try my best to stay positive, which as my fellow spoonies will know is often a very difficult thing to do. I try to carry on as best I can with my everyday life and not let my conditions stop me from doing some of things I enjoy. On a good day, when the pain is not as bad as it could be, when my medication is helping to minimise the severity of some of my symptoms and I have been able to check off a few of the tasks on my to-do-list, I feel more positive. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I have achieved the things I wanted to and this always makes me feel happy. It’s easier to feel positive when I have these days, because I am getting stuff done despite the pain I’m experiencing and I feel that the more optimistic I am, the easier it is to power through the pain.
Living with chronic illness means that I have to plan in advance when I want to do things with my friends and family, so that I can both mentally and physically prepare for the task ahead. If I’m having a good pain day and I don’t have to cancel, being out doing something fun with my loved ones definitely helps me to maintain a positive attitude towards my chronic illness. Although going out and doing things is always challenging and energy-draining, when I get back home having been out I always feel really glad that I went and was able to have a fun time. I even feel a little proud of myself! This is another thing that helps me stay positive, as if I don’t manage to get things done for the next few days I remind myself of what I’ve just achieved and that I shouldn’t beat myself up for not being able to do certain things. I am trying and it’s important that I pace myself and make sure that I’m not overdoing things. However, there are still days when the pain and/or fatigue are bad and it is really hard to deal with my chronic illnesses no matter how positive I try to be.
Dealing with depression and anxiety can make it very difficult to maintain a positive attitude. Some days, when I can’t do things or I am having a hard time being able to get out of bed or move around much or I’m in a lot of pain, then it’s difficult not to feel overwhelmed and upset about having to deal with my health conditions. I feel sad that I can’t do some of the things that my friends are doing and that simple tasks are much harder to do now. These are the days when I get easily frustrated at myself, when my mood feels low and this is when my depression kicks in. I overthink about my life, about the things I want to be doing, about how much pain I’m in, about so so much and this definitely has a knock-on effect on my physical health conditions. I find that it’s much harder to motivate myself to try and do things when I’m feeling depressed. I feel more lethargic and this really doesn’t help when I’m already fatigued (and actually makes me feel more fatigued)! I can’t concentrate when I am depressed and I don’t have much drive in me to complete tasks. If I’m having a bad mental health day, it does make it much harder to deal with my health conditions, and in fact exacerbates my symptoms. I often experience flare up’s in relation to my depression and anxiety because when we are stressed, this causes physical strain on the body.
On days like this, it’s even more important to find ways to manage my mental health, to uplift my mood and to try and stay positive. This is something that I actually really struggle with, but I’ve been trying my hardest over the last year to find ways to boost my positivity and help me deal with the challenges that my health conditions bring. The thing that I find helps me the most is to connect with other spoonies, to chat about our struggles and our daily lives with chronic illnesses and disabilities. I find comfort in reading blog posts about how my fellow spoonies cope especially when they offer tips and advice. Knowing that I’m not alone in my struggles helps me stay positive and encourages me to try my best when life gets tough. When I read articles and blogs written by people who have the same or similar health conditions to me and I can relate to how they feel both physically and mentally, it motivates me and reminds me to stay strong ♥
Another thing that helps me stay positive is making a manageable to-do-list and checking things off. Having a sense of accomplishment is something that keeps me feeling positive. If I look at my to-do-list at the end of the day and see even one thing ticked, then it’s something that I’ve achieved, no matter how small. When I’m writing my to-do-lists, I break down more difficult tasks into smaller steps so I can slowly work through it, making sure that I’m still pacing myself. I also write my to-do-lists in two sections, one for important things (the stuff that really needs to get done) and one for other things (that don’t need to be done on the day so if I miss them, it’s all good).
A little thing I do to try and keep myself positive is to set the lock-screen on my iPhone as a motivational, encouraging picture. Right now, I have gorgeous unicorn illustration with the words ‘you are strong enough’ written on it. It just cheers me up when I see it 🙂 A final thing that I do isn’t something that helps me stay positive but it’s definitely something that makes me feel happier, and this is self care. Make sure you do something everyday, no matter how simple, that makes you feel good! This could be watching your favourite movie, pampering yourself or having a bath with some lovely bathbombs, doing your make-up and taking some selfies or calling your friend for a chat. Try to do something to boost your mood and make yourself smile.
Living with chronic illnesses and disabilities is really tough, but you need to remember that you are so strong! Even if the only thing you do in a day is have a bath, or wash the dishes, or watch your favourite TV show, remember that you are trying and it’s okay to do things at your own pace. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others, but remind yourself that not everyone has to deal with the things that you do and that you doing the best you can! Try to find your own ways to stay positive, because it really can make you feel better!
Do you agree with Sarah? What are your thoughts? Get in touch below!