January 28, 2011

Coping with Chronic Illness

I was thinking today about some of the ways I cope with chronic illness and pain.  I have chronic myofascial pain, chronic daily headache and fibromyalgia.  So lots of pain and lots of time alone where I don't feel up to doing anything.

1) Get a snuggly pet, if possible.  My lap cat is the best day-to-day coping mechanism I have.  Pets are also helpful because they force you, even on awful days, to get out of bed and take care of them.

2) Internet!  There is no comparison between my life before the web and after.  Even in the early days of newsgroups it was amazing to find other people living with the same condition.  The number of people, and ways to stay connected, are beyond my dreams 15 years ago.

3) I hate to say it, but TV.  The best distraction for me on my worst pain days.  I ditched tv and use Netflix and my computer to stream movies, documentaries, tv shows, whatever.  Some hand sewing, knitting, embroidery, etc, is perfect to keep your hands occupied while the screen is distracting your brain from the pain.

4) Friends.  Sending email or calling friends, even when you can't meet in person, is so important.  It's too easy to lose touch and end up alone.  Also the internet can be a good way to make new friends.  Not everyone is nice, normal or sane but the ratio is about the same as people on the street.

A significant other can be extremely beneficial, or not.  It's difficult to retain an awareness of one's self worth while disabled and many people prey on that, consciously or not.  If you find someone who loves you as you are, friend, family or SO, don't let them go!  These are the people that make life worthwhile.

5) Get out of the house.  Even if it's just to walk around the block or grab some groceries, being outside and seeing other people is a huge help.  The daily interactions that most people take for granted are something I have to work at.  One of the best things is having a couple hours each week to chat with my physical therapist during appointments.  It's not planned talking like with friends, it happens whether I feel well or not, and it helps keep me sane.

6) A hobby.  I started knitting 17 years ago, soon after my chronic pain started.  I loved having a way to be productive and learn new things.  Your hobby may be completely different so long as it's something you love that you can do while sick.

7) Focus on the positives, try to ignore the negatives.  Part of this for me is focusing on what I can do, not what I can't.  There are infinite possibilities in the world and no one can do everything.  Even on my worst days I'm a champion sleeper and a great lap for kitties ;)

What are some ways you cope with illness or stress?

1 comment:

  1. Good list!! Usually when I see stuff like this (lists on how to cope) i get annoyed because they are off in some way, like include something that people in pain can't usually do without being in worse pain. But this was spot on.

    I do all of that. The only thing that sucks w the internet is that for me, its limited. I can only stay on for an hour or so before I actually start feeling worse because of the pain sitting up like that causes. Weird right?

    Sig other - agreed. x1000.

    Sorry for lack of comments lately.. dot think i am ignoring, just busy.


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