“Top Tips” for living with a chronic long term health condition
I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalopathy (CFS/ME) and was diagnosed back in 2015. Unfortunately, like many of these long-term conditions, there is no “magic pill” or “silver bullet” to cure them. To cope, a complete life change is required. Over time the following tips have been tried and tested and I hope if you are affected by a similar health issue, you will find this of some use.
This is a not a “one-off realisation” experience, this happens over a long period of time. To truly accept the current version of you, and not keep harking back to your former self, takes conscious attention and work. Listing daily achievements and seeing your current gifts and talents helps to recognise your new version of self. As life unfolds there will always be incidents or occasions when you look backwards and attribute the “old you” qualities and skills to the situation. This is unhelpful and will affect your confidence and self-esteem, so recognising when you are doing it and being kind to yourself is key to gaining acceptance. Trust me, these occasions lessen over time.
This is currently being used a lot within health and well-being circles, but moderation and balance is the way ahead for all things in life – including managing your well-being. Apply this to nutrition, social connections, relaxation/rest, learning, chores, hobbies and pushing out of your comfort zone. Doing too much of any one thing will cause illness flare ups so being mindful of activity types and careful planning across the week is vital to keeping symptoms as low as possible.
Find what works for you
There are many self-help groups in the community to support an array of conditions alongside countless coping strategies to try. Mindfulness, laughter clubs, gentle walking groups, art/craft sessions, poetry groups, and gardening are just a few. Libraries and the internet will show local availability. Being with others for some of your time is vital to staying well.
By getting involved with groups and getting out of your comfort zone you will stumble across your new purpose in life. When speaking to others in a similar position they will often say if it wasn’t for their illness they would never have discovered their current life path.
This grows as you do. The more varied avenues you explore and get involved with, the more you get to appreciate about your own life. You will meet people who will show you how rich your life is in every sense of the word and this somehow gives you the capacity to give more to others in time and attention – never underestimate the power of a smile or a compliment.
Chrissy Darby runs the support group STRIVE for people with long term chronic health conditions in Worthing and Adur. To find out more please call The Community House Team on 01903 215 799 /07712 677 331