Day 29: What has helped you cope with the stress of this lifestyle?
I don’t think anyone would deny that dealing with a bevy of chronic illnesses is stressful. Sometimes it’s difficult to cope, especially on days when you aren’t feeling your best. And there are some days when honestly, coping is just impossible. But there are some ways I’ve discovered that can help lighten the load of the burden that is carrying chronic illnesses.
Chronic illness makes you feel very, very alone, especially when you are surrounded by healthy people and don’t personally know anyone else with the illnesses you have. People around you try to understand, but it’s impossible for them to understand because they’re not the ones going through it.
I remember a time very soon after my endometriosis diagnosis when I realized that my first surgery had failed. As I dealt with the onslaught of pain day after day, I lay in bed crying, because who could possibly understand what I was going through? It was then that I discovered a plethora of support groups on Facebook. It didn’t take me long to realize that women with endometriosis are some of the most close-knit, supportive people you will ever find. We’ve all dealt with the years of suffering, the failed surgeries, the pain that nobody else can understand. So finding and communicating with my endo sisters has played a huge role in my ability to cope with the disease.
Support groups. The same holds true for the other illnesses I suffer from. There’s nothing more encouraging than realizing that there is someone else out there who knows exactly what you’re going through. They’ve been through it, too. And everyone is at a different point in their struggle, so you have a wide range of viewpoints to rely on.
Obviously, writing has probably been my biggest coping method. My writing last fall and winter was quite sporadic until just after Christmas, when the first symptoms of my brain tumor began to manifest themselves. As I had to call off work more and more frequently, which frustrated me to no end, I poured my soul into my journals because it helped me clear my mind and ease my frustrations. It’s still my biggest outlet of stress relief.
Seeking solace in God’s Word has been the best means of coping I have found. There is nothing you can feel that the Bible doesn’t have something to say about. And God always knows how to bring you to the right passage at the right time, whether you’re sad, happy, lonely, frustrated, in despair, stressed, or any other emotion you can think of. God truly is an ever-present help in times of trouble.