Ready, Set, Distraction: Distracting My Mind From My Chronic Illness

I have found distractions to be the best way to deal with my illnesses. On the days where there is nothing I’d like more than to stay home, I throw myself into my number one distraction: My work. It is widely said once you walk through the door at the television station where I work, you leave your problems outside and it’s true. Once 3 o’clock hits and I limp through that door, my health takes a back burner.

I work in an industry that never sleeps, and has no time to wait for you to feel better. In live television news, there is always some form of breaking news. There’s always some form of severe weather, always some technical difficulty that you have a very limited time to fix. You know that saying, “The show must go on?” Well, that’s no understatement.

The news doesn’t care that I am disabled and fighting my own body to be there. The news doesn’t care that there are times I have to sit in a dark room and constantly squint to see straight. The news doesn’t care that I am constantly in pain. Come 5:30, my show will be going on, with or without me. I decided I did not want to watch life pass me by.

I forget my pain while I’m rushing back and forth checking on tapes. I forget the toll my migraines have taken on my memory as I type codes that are a second language to me. I forget the fire creeping up my spine and across my shoulders as I run through my show. I forget that my stomach is doing backflips, that my nerves are going haywire and that my mind is playing tricks on me due to aura. I slide my focus off of how I am feeling and onto the show. The worse I feel, the more detail-oriented I become. Inner monologue becomes riddled with anxieties, I go in and see what graphics I can put in the background to match the stories. There is no time to focus on how I feel because the show must go on.

I have found that not only does the art of the distractions help get me through the rough times, it also allows me to live the life I want. My job keeps me on a schedule that doesn’t allow me time to feel sorry for myself. It also helps to keep me motivated to conquer my pain and be bigger than my illnesses.

My best advice to someone with a chronic illness is to find your distraction. Find something that brings you peace and purpose and pour your attention to that, rather than your struggles.

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