So, what’s wrong with you?
So many times I’ve been asked “So what exactly is wrong with you?”
My reply is usually “How long have you got?”
Invisible illnesses, chronic pain and mental health illnesses are grossly misunderstood so often.
They can’t see it; it isn’t tangible or explainable through what they see, so often they struggle to believe it.
I liken it to a belief in God (or Santa for the non-Christians). You can’t see Him. You have no real proof that He exists, yet you still believe. You still trust.
Living with an invisible illness or mental health issue is a fight every day to try to live a ‘normal’ life.
I have collected together a selection of inspirational or relatable images to help explain or sooth the struggle with the symptoms that cannot be seen.
Managing day to day
In the last week, I have had some awful days both with pain levels and mental health.
I have written a post about managing pain levels, so I want to talk about mental health management.
Keeping my mind healthy is a daily fight. I was told by a counsellor that when I wake up in the morning and get those first feelings of anxiety, I need to press stop on the tape recorder (or CD for those not old enough to remember tapes!) and play another track. One that is positive and will help me to get out of bed.
Distracting my mind is something I still need to focus on consciously. If I don’t, the anxious thought can overwhelm me and I just want to curl up in a ball in bed. So I focus on mini goals.
Steps after my mental breakdown
Just after I had my breakdown in August 2018, everything overwhelmed me. The thought of getting out of bed. Then the thought of having a shower (which did NOT happen every day!) Choosing clothes to wear and getting dressed felt like a marathon (due to additional mobility issues).
After that, I didn’t want to do anything else. My mind had reached its limit of coping and refused to entertain anything else.
After a month of this, and a medication change, I started setting myself just one goal a day.
Either having a shower, or stacking the dishwasher, or running through a load of washing. I only determined to manage one thing per day. If I did more, it was a huge achievement and I felt better, but I made sure I didn’t compete with myself or compare to other better days.
Gradually, I could up the amount of goals I could achieve in one day. Not every day, as I still had bad days, and still do! But bit by bit I began to cope with more day to day tasks.
Be kind to yourself, no pressure
Not putting pressure on your mind to manage everything is an important start to feeling better. I’m not saying it will make you feel fully well. I’ve had counselling, CBT, medication changes and lots of support which has helped me in addition to my own mind management!
I still have ‘jangly’ days, as I call them. Days when every nerve in my body feels like it’s rattling and jangling and my anxiety is high. However, I’m better prepared to deal with them now. If I feel overwhelmed, I scale life down. I only do the important or basic things and I don’t beat myself up about it!
Self love and acceptance are so important. Know your limitations and accept them rather than feel bitter about what you can’t do. If you have a condition, illness or disease you need to embrace your abilities and not focus on your disabilities. Otherwise you will trap yourself in a bad place.
So love yourself! Be kind to yourself! You are most important.