How does one get off the roller-coaster-ride of chronic illness and pain? If I could put the answer in a pill I would be a billionaire overnight. There are too many who are suffering through this miserable ride. Healthy people who have not experienced this ride cannot begin to imagine. Instead of trying to make others understand, let’s look at ways to get off the ride in an attempt to find some steady ground.
Pay attention to when you are most likely to crash physically and emotionally. We already have the chronic illness that we are dealing with but there are outside factors that make the situation worse, sending us on a “crash” that slows down our healing process. There will be factors from the illness itself and there will be life factors.
When do you see yourself “crashing?”
- Is it when you physically do too much?
- Is it when you physically cannot do enough so that chores are not getting done and living in the filth is getting to you?
- Is it when you are trying to explain the help that you need and you cannot articulate it well enough so that anyone will step up and help?
- Is it when you do not eat and drink to nourish yourself properly?
- Is it when you don’t have the energy or appetite to bother with eating?
- Is it when you have asked for help so many times that you realize you will not be receiving it?
- Is it when you are not getting enough sleep to heal and you have tried all the tricks?
- Is it a doctor’s appointment when you have not received any assistance?
- Is it when you have a wave of hopelessness?
What is it for you? What combination of things makes your illness send you on the next roller coaster ride that takes days or weeks to recover from? These crashes are going to come. The good news is that with care and attention, they will go.
During chronic illness and pain, we simply have to accept that we will meet these limits far more quickly and easily than the healthy person. Others most likely will not begin to understand your limits. That is okay, we don’t understand everything about them either!
As you learn to identify your limits you will notice markers or things that help show you that your body and mind are at its limits. When things get blurry making your eyesight questionable, make your head spin so things are more confusing than usual, that is when you know you have crashed. That is when you need to declare your boundaries, stop and recover.
After you have determined your limits, set boundaries and stick with them.
Remember, others have very little idea of what you are experiencing so you not only have to be clear about your boundaries, you have to maintain them yourself.
If you have a friend or family member who is helping care for you, communicate as clearly as you can what those boundaries need to be so they can help you. Do not assume they begin to understand. And remember, we would never wish chronic illness on them so we really do not want them to fully understand. If you have anyone helping you with anything, communicate!!
Your limits, identifiers/markers, and your boundaries are like moving targets, they will change. As you move through your illness many things will change. “Riding” the twists and turns of chronic illness become a skill, helping us learn how to get out of it. Noticing how your body reacts to stress helps you learn how to deal with stress which in turn helps you heal faster so that you can get to the amusement park.
I sincerely would like to hear what your triggers are.