So we have chronic pain and illness but it doesn’t exempt us from life stresses that slap us upside the head. If anything, we experience More life stresses like financial instability. But sometimes it comes out of the blue… as life’s sucker punches do. And it hits us in our illness as we respond to stress we didn’t cause and do not know how to cope with. It can be a real flare zone. We all have stresses. From being ill. And just normal daily stresses. But I am talking that surprise punch to the gut sort of stress that just nails you. And you flounder to cope.
And such it is with me recently. Really sucker punched. And I felt so nauseated. Pain flared. I couldn’t sleep. I just couldn’t process the stress so it just smacked me with pain and migraines and lack of sleep. Not sure I have even finished processing it, to be honest. Not sure I know how I will respond to this stress. I have a plan but best-laid plans and all.
But life has a way of doing this.
So what do we do to handle this slap to the face by life while chronically ill?
First and foremost, we are humans with emotions
You have full permission to feel angry, anxiety, sadness, or isolation when life slaps you down. Every normal human does and we are human too. None of this ‘I shouldn’t feel this way’ or ‘I shouldn’t overreact’. Or we need to ‘suck it up’ and not be ‘weak’. Or attach more meaning to those emotions than the situation dictates. Like something causes upheaval and we then go on to say ‘because everything always sucks’. Because that isn’t true. We just have to feel the emotion that the situation called for and understand it is perfectly normal to do so.
Do not panic
Instead of an increased frenzy of activity to resolve the problem, we actually need to Slow Down. Slowing down and taking care is important. And overthinking… is dangerous. You can make a plan of action but it doesn’t mean ruminating yourself into a poor mental state (I rock at ruminating myself into a worse mental state. It is my go-to reaction). Being aware you tend to overthink or get into a frenzy of activity means it actually is a good idea to sit down and make yourself a list of things and goals that will help improve the situation and what to do if it doesn’t improve. And then remind yourself when you overthink, you have a plan of action. Some plans take time and slow and steady one step at a time we can get through these real suprise attacks by life.
Self-care is not selfish. It is not indulgent. And it is vital when we feel external stresses that make us physically and emotionally get worse. Whatever self-care works for you. I often find some meditation helps as well, especially in the evening, since at night my mind races with all the stress of the situation compounding on me… and I can’t sleep. But I also do epsom salt baths to help with the fibromyalgia. Listen to soothing music. Resting when I need to. Remembering my medication.
Get those emotions out in a healthy way
And this is an outlet. This is where hobbies come into play. Reading, knitting, colouring… whatever your hobbies are they are a creative way to direct your stress and emotions. They distract for a bit as well, which is great. But also it directs the emotion into a project. And this can help with coping.
We often want to deal with everything on our own. And just endure. But feedback from our support system can be extremely beneficial to help us organize our thoughts. Reaching out to others is not a weakness. And maybe you will gain insights you couldn’t think of.
I have been doing all of this trying to get through the situation I find myself in. And you know it is rough to have these external stresses hit us when we are already dealing with so much. But that is life and its infinite unpredictability.