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!
- 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
- 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!