Coping with multiple chronic illnesses is challenging. Very challenging. It’s hard to know how you will feel one day to the next. When my husband asked me if I was going to feel well enough to get to my doctor’s appointments in a few days, I had to remind him I don’t know how I’m going to feel five minutes from now, much less five days from now. As another example, I was fine for most of the day today, although so fatigued I could barely sit up (so what else is new) but just now that I can finally sit up, the daily dizziness has set in as I’m trying to type this. But I’m determined. I have my words and music to distract my brain from what it’s trying to do to me.
So how do I cope on the bad days? Everyone is different. And some days, honestly I can’t cope. Nothing and no one can make me feel better on those days. I hate those days. I like to call those days my “spiritual Antietam” days. For those who don’t know or who have forgotten American history, the Battle of Antietam (or the Battle of Sharpsburg, depending on whose side you were on; don’t ask, just roll with it) was fought on September 17, 1862 during the American Civil War and is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with 22,717 soldiers wounded, killed, or missing combined from both sides (recall this was the Civil War, so all soldiers were Americans.) The picture to the left is a picture I took in 2011 of “Bloody Run”, a ditch in which there were 5,000 casualties in a few hours’ time. It’s much deeper than it looks.
So why am I likening my really bad days to a gruesome Civil War battle? Because spiritual warfare is something I believe in. As my dad so perfectly put it in a recent email to me, “I remember what Pastor Bob used to say to believers who said they were enduring fierce spiritual warfare. He would say something to the effect of, ‘Good. That means Satan is working against you. If you weren’t effective, he would leave you alone.’ The Lord is standing between you and Satan right now. In effect, He is telling Satan, ‘Get lost. She’s with me.'”
I am with God. I am on His side and I believe in Him. This may be evident to you if you’ve read any of my blog posts. But do you think it’s any coincidence that the worst attack upon me in recent months was the day after I published Too Many to Declare, in which I glorified God by telling of all the wonderful things He’s done in my life despite my circumstances? I think not. I knew when I hit the publish button I was taking a huge risk and that I might come under attack, but I didn’t care and I still don’t. I will not let one person who reads my blog think I give credit for the good things I have to anyone but Jesus Christ Himself.
That’s my major coping mechanism. My faith in Jesus. I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m proud to witness for my God and Savior. Because He loves me just as much as He loves you, whether you believe in Him or not. He loves you just the same.
I also cope with music. I have a post in my drafts that I haven’t gotten around to that speaks more specifically about the role music plays in my coping. My two favorite bands are Rend Collective and All Sons and Daughters. This song by All Sons and Daughters, inspired by the life of Saint Augustine, fills me with incredible peace. I also love this song inspired by the life of Saint Peter; I sing it to heaven on a regular basis. As for Rend Collective, their new version of a song they wrote a few years ago is incredible (and who doesn’t love a bass made out of a suitcase?) But this was the song that made me love the band in the first place, so I have to include it. I have a playlist including just these two bands that I listen to literally every single day to keep me focused on God and so I can praise Him. One good way to keep the devil away is to praise God.
Then there are my fur babies. It’s hard to tell, but there are five of them on the bed in this picture (we have seven kitties total.) They always know when I’m having a bad day; two in particular, Aurora (the white one in the foreground) and Nala I call my “rescue kitties” because they always show up out of nowhere when I need them most, sometimes even before I can tell how bad I’m feeling. Animals are amazing like that.
I also do a lot of non-blogging writing in journals. That’s where the really secret stuff is. I go through a journal every 2-3 weeks because of how much I write. It’s a bit ridiculous sometimes, but it helps me a lot to sort through the thoughts in my head once I get them down on paper. And it’s often inspiring (and hilarious) to look back months to years later at what I wrote to see how things turned out. I still have all my journals from middle and high school and they’re quite funny to look back at.
Everyone copes with their chronic illnesses differently and for those with mental illnesses on top of it, coping is often a challenge. These things don’t always work for me, as I’ve mentioned. But these are the things I go to that help keep me afloat.
How do my fellow bloggers cope? Sound off!
When the pieces seem too shattered
To gather off the floor
And all that really matters
Is that I can’t feel You anymore
Is that I don’t feel You anymore
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in Your hands
And I need a reason to sing
“Reason to Sing” by All Sons and Daughters