6 Ways to Get Through the 'Lows' Of Chronic Illness


Living with a chronic illness is tough, and when it is invisible or you have several of them, you may find yourself alone during the worst ‘lows.’ I often spend hours sitting on the bathroom floor next to my toilet waiting for the next wave of nausea to hit me.

So what do I do when these moments come up? I have found several ways to ease the pain of having to deal with several lows a day.

1. Put on some music. I’m lucky enough to have the ability to listen to music while I’m stuck in a low on the bathroom floor. I wouldn’t recommend this if you struggle with something like migraines, but some relaxing music might help. Sometimes I find myself letting go of the nausea and pain and instead starting to dance or meditate – depending on my music choice.

2. Grab a cozy blanket. It may sound weird, but I have a couple of blankets around the house I never lose sight of. I grab them whenever I need comfort. Since I’m always at home, I know I can take them with me to the bathroom or the couch or wherever this next low will hit me. But I have also found myself carrying a small blanket when I travel or go somewhere; it gives me comfort, security and heat, since I’m constantly shivering no matter what the weather is.

3. Coloring. Adult coloring is now trending for all sorts of things. Though I confess I don’t do it very often, it is something that soothes me when I have an episode of brain fog or anxiety due to pain. I’m not good at dealing with being stuck, and coloring takes my mind off of things. I prefer mandalas and nature themed coloring books, but really anything works – even doodling helps me.

4. Stretching. This one is harder to do when you’re stuck next to the toilet for most of the day, but as with most of chronic illnesses, side effects include muscle pain. I often end up doing some yoga and stretching in the bathroom, and it helps! I feel more relaxed after and can at least occupy my mind and body for a while.

5. Walking. During winter this one is hard, but I have an emotional support dog I need to walk at least three times a day, and it helps. Even before I got him, I would randomly take my keys and just go for a walk with no particular place in mind. It’s important to give your mind a break and if you are, like me, at home most of the time, then you can easily begin to drive yourself crazy. Walking and breathing fresh air is a natural soother of mine. It doesn’t matter if it’s just five minutes or even if I’m just walking down to my apartment building’s lobby – it clears my head.

6. Watch a movie or a TV show. I love movies. I have a large DVD collection (yes, those still exist) and I pick one movie or a silly TV show when I feel the most drained and hopeless. If you can’t walk or move, this option is great, and now with Netflix, Hulu and all the other apps, your choices are endless. It’s OK for us spoonies to spend time doing this – I used to feel lazy and guilty about it, until I discovered it actually heals me emotionally and physically, and there is nothing wrong with that.

With the holidays around the corner, I realize the lows may come more and more often. There is the stress of family and socializing. And for me, eating, as someone relying entirely on TPN, is the most stressful of times. So find some space for you and you only and try some of these tips – maybe they’ll help somehow, even if just a little.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images


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