Living with chronic illness

At the time of this writing, I was 11 weeks into a constant migraine and taking steps to figure out a cause and some solutions. That probably doesn’t count a chronic illness yet, but here’s what I’ve learned thus far:

Lower your bar. Do what you can and be where you’re at. It’s okay if all you can do today is nothing. Perhaps you can do a single task for work, or for your home, or for your health and hygiene. That’s okay. Count your wins. Perhaps today I can only lie under the blankets and wish the world away, but I also brushed my teeth. Count that as a win. It’s a little win. But if, today, you could also make a meal for yourself, that’s 2 wins. Some days hold larger or more numerous victories. Count it all.

Do it now, if you can. I’m a procrastinator and leave things for Future Me to do. But since I can’t do everything everyday, Current Me has to be more responsible.

Keep records and be scientific. I started tracking things in Excel (I’m that brand of nerd). I was tracking temperature, barometric pressure, pollen counts, stages of the moon, my temperature, my blood sugar, my blood pressure, my mood, my energy levels, my sleep patterns, pain levels, and what medications I was taking and how they made me feel. This allowed me to have a more productive conversation with my doctor. We could rule things in and out. This got me closer to knowing what was and was not helping, what may be a cause or correlation, and we could discuss it without me saying “I don’t know. I just hurt all the time,” which wasn’t helpful.

Seek help. Talk to your doctor and advocate for yourself. Say “it’s still not better” if that’s true. Take a referral to a specialist – this made a big difference to me. Join a support group online – there’s lots of free peer-run groups on Facebook and elsewhere – but remember that they are people like you and not professionals. Ask people you know if they’ve been through what you’re experiencing and what they suggest. If you’d like to learn to manage pain in the body, I can teach you that through self hypnosis. Please read this article on the process and call the number below to schedule an appointment.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter & Facebook.

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