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5 Tips for the Chronically Ill During the Holidays

By Kathy Craddock, owner, Kickshaws Downtown Market and Kickshaws Kitchen.

Life for the chronically ill can be emotionally draining. Bad days often stretch into agonizing months. Rare and precious pain-free days don’t last long enough.

Recently, due to my struggles with autoimmune diseases, I ended up in the emergency room.

On days when I’m tempted to give up, I have to remind myself that I am not super woman, I am not unstoppable, and my body will certainly crash if I ignore it.

With the increased stress of the holidays, I have found that the following five reminders help me to make it through the bad days.

Be kind to yourself.
When my body isn’t doing what it is supposed to be doing (i.e. digesting, motor function, etc.) I have a tendency to be patient for about five minutes, and then get angry. I say to myself things I hear my surly teen say — “I hate my body…Stupid hands!… I need a new brain!” Unless you have experienced it, I can’t express how frustrating it is to have your mind say, “I am picking up this cup” and your body doesn’t cooperate.

Lean on your support.
Despite what you may think, you are not alone. If you’ve not been there, it is hard to understand the constant struggle that being chronically ill can be. That is when having a system of support can really be helpful. I encourage everyone to reach out to find others who suffer with the same or similar issues. It really makes a huge difference. If you are reading this and know friends who are chronically ill, suggest to them to find some support or others who have similar issues. Unfortunately chronic illness and depression go hand in hand, but finding those you can really lean on and talk to can help alleviate that a great deal.

Slow down.
This one is extremely important, and the one I have the hardest time with. My brain is much more ambitious than what my body can really handle. I often think about my brain having conversations with organs in my body — “alright lungs, we are ready for a run!” Lungs: “Sure… I guess.” Cardiovascular system: “You’re going to pay for this brain.” I think my liver and kidney have actually seceded from the union at this point. You MUST slow down, it is absolutely imperative. Sometimes folks will get upset when you cancel or can’t make certain plans, but it is important to remember just like you would schedule an outing with friends, you need to listen to your body and schedule time for healing and recovery.

Don’t beat yourself up.
We try our hardest to do things we can to alleviate our issues. Sometimes all the natural remedies in the world (and believe me natural is my first stop for anything), supplements and treatments still won’t fix what is happening. I have had to have my own nutritionist tell me it was ok to take a prescription drug for pain because if it was that bad, my body was in crisis and was not going to work toward healing in that state.

I work with a few natural health providers, as well as specialists like a rheumatologist and neurologist to handle my various issues. Sometimes you need the conventional treatment, and you should not beat yourself up or feel you are weak for doing so.

You CAN feel bad for yourself… just not for too long.
This one is also a really important one. There is no doubt about it, being chronically ill sucks. It is ok to feel bad about it, and have a pity party for yourself now and again. Just remember to not allow yourself to stay down too long.

Again, depression and chronic illness often run hand in hand, and allowing yourself too long to stew about it will undoubtedly make it much hard to pull yourself back up again. So cry about it, scream about it, break something (that you won’t regret later!), and move on. Of course, this is much easier said than done, but I can speak from experience, marinating in pity does not help; in fact it actually makes it much worse.

As I approach a new year I often think, “maybe this year will be the one where this stuff just goes away.” Looking at it that way sure leaves me at the end of the year disappointed, especially given my recent bout with my illness.

Instead, this year, I choose to look at where I have been and the challenges I have faced, and I choose to be proud of myself for getting through another year.

Instead of making resolutions to be better in some way, I am simply looking at 2017 thankful that I am here and I am still kicking butt.

Look back at your own 2016, you kicked butt too, you know it.

Happy New Year!
Kathy

Medical Disclaimer. The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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