What are your favourite/most useful coping skills – for pain, depression, and all the silly side effects that come with having chronic illness?
Admittedly, this is not one of my strong suits. My blog is, essentially, documentation of my ongoing attempts to learn how to cope, but I’ll try and organize my thoughts.
I have mentally pigeon-holed my coping mechanisms into two categories: quick fixes and long-term strategies.
The quick-fix category contains all my reactive medications, heat therapies, and other things I do to deal with my illnesses and side effects on a day-to-day basis. I am leaving this stuff out, since I document it elsewhere and it is not nearly as fun as my cheer-ups. I am slowly building my list of guaranteed cheer-ups in my world, so I don’t have to wrack my brain when I am exhausted or blue to think of things. Here’s my partial list so far:
- Go to the pet store and cuddle fuzzy things.
- Browse interior design stores or websites- just thinking about pretty things makes me feel better.
- Smell fresh flowers.
- Snuggle up under a fuzzy blanket.
- Cuddle my cats and give them treats. Laugh at how adorably they act when I get out the gooshy food, or break out the catnip or laser pointer!
- Watch my favourite animated movies: anything Miyazaki, anything Pixar, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, really anything fantasy at all.
- Reading. I love to read.
- Play computer or flash games, especially while chatting with friends who are playing said games with me online.
- Crafting. Making anything makes me happy.
- Poking through antique shops!
- Hot chocolate with cinnamon- so good!
- Hugs from my hubby. Aww!
- Playing tabletop games with friends.
- Listen to/watch some of my favourite music/videos online.
- Go for walks.
- Take pictures.
- Take a froofy bath (bubbles are generally involved).
There are times, however, when I can’t do most/all of these things. Looking at cute animals online helps replace snorgling bunnies if I can’t get out, but it’s not the same. (I don’t know why, but I’ve had a bunny fixation lately. Must be all the Easter advertising.) It’s the long-term coping strategies that I have the most trouble with.
I am learning, for the most part, to take things one day at a time. This doesn’t mean that I don’t think (and worry) about the future, but… I can only do so much. Worrying really doesn’t help me any (and as I now know, stress has a field-day when it comes to my health, so I am trying to de-stress as much as possible). If there is one thing that I am slowly coming to understand about my illness, it is that it is different every day and to roll with the punches (as it were).
One of my long-term cheers is this little mantra: “I know what it is and I’m better than I was”. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed and aggravated, or just despair. But at least, for now, I am much more functional than I was three years ago. It’s easy to forget how exhausted I was- I was sleeping constantly, my hair was falling out in chunks, I felt miserable and I didn’t know why. By far, that was one of the most frightening times of my life, and my relief when we were able to put a name to it, and then when treatment began to show results, was incredible. Of course, it was only a partial reprieve as I learned just recently, but my worst days are only a few days out of the month, rather than every day for months and months. I need to keep that perspective.