Last month Deb, who lives with neurocardiogenic
syncope, wrote to me:
I just read your interview on beliefnet.com, "5 Rules for Living with Chronic Illness & Depression." Your advice was right on point - I wish I had had it eight years ago!
...Anyway, you said you wanted to offer your readers guidance to living with chronic illness. I've come up with a couple of "rules" that help me stay on track - you probably already know them, but I'll offer them anyway:
- Try to get up at the same time every day. It's not always possible. Heck, it's not always possible to get out of bed! But try.
- Shower, get dressed (sweatpants aren't allowed), brush your teeth and put on a little make-up. The simple act of trying to LOOK human often almost makes me FEEL human.
- Don't play too many computer games. It's tempting to spend hours on the computer because there's not a lot else going on. But I've found that my sleep rhythms get messed up from too much computer time - and my sleep rhythms are ALREADY a problem!
- If you can, take 15 minutes and straighten up your house. I know that some days it's just not going to happen, but somehow I always feel physically better if the clutter is gone.
- If possible, get a pet. My dog and my cats always know when I don't feel good and will come and sit with me and give me comfort.
- Accept help. Probably one of the hardest things for people to do is accept help. Needing help is not a weakness. Not being able to accept help is.
- Listen to the people around you. My family and friends almost always know I'm going to have a spell even before I do. Don't be stubborn. Pay attention to them.
- Understand that chronic discomfort makes people cranky - it's a fact and you can't do much about it. What you can do is try to recognize when you've jumped the shark, apologize profusely, and then start over.
- Cut yourself some slack. Nobody can do it all - even if they're 100% healthy.
- Try to live and give each day for God. I've always tried to do that and when I had to slow down I felt I was letting God down because I just wasn't "doing!" What I understand now is that I'm still "doing" just in a different way - I listen a lot more. I'm more empathetic. I'm always here for my friends and family because, well, I'm always HERE.
Deb's rules are right on! I love every single one of them. Do you have any rules of your own that help you live a full life despite illness? Please share them with us in the comments below!