One of my friends who fights chronic pain asked me how I cope with pain and illness on a daily basis, so I thought I should share in hope that it will help somebody else out.
I’ve built up my own techniques for dealing chronic illness over the years. When I’m at my worst (a lifeless, crying mess with pain being a nine to 10) I always close my eyes, just breathe and visualize myself on stage performing a lyrical dance with raw emotion and just dancing my heart out. It’s a massive distraction. I could do it for hours and hours, and even though it takes more energy out of me and I become a little weaker and more brain-fogged, I’ve found that it’s really helped me cope and not to focus or dwell on the pain.
Also, I visualize myself snorkeling in the underground river in Mexico. It keeps me calm and relaxed when things get scary (like when paramedics thought I was having a stroke), during months of paralysis or when I think bad thoughts about being so severely ill forever. Some people might find this bizarre, but I’ve found it to be the best strategy for coping with constant agony. When the pain is center stage, it helps me stay determined and focused on my dreams, recovery and goals keeps the pain out of the spotlight for a little while.
If you fight a chronic illness, maybe you could try these techniques, but using something personal, close to you and what you really love. This could be you visualizing yourself doing a hobby or even walking down the street soaking up the surroundings, from the comfort of your own home.
When things like pain get really bad, I believe we have to tell ourselves that nothing bad is going to happen (before I was diagnosed, I was scared, confused and thought I was dying — and I wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I am now). And although it’s not “normal,” it’s become our normal. We’ve got no choice but to accept it and fight it in order to move on. Accepting it doesn’t mean you’re being negative and going to be like this for the rest of your life — it’s just part if the process you need to do, otherwise you’ll be running in circles for a long time pretending it’s not real when it’s the realest part of your life.
You’ve got to stay true to yourself.
Follow this journey on The Chronicals of Chronic Illness.
Editor’s note: This is based on one person’s opinion and experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice.