Even If You're Struggling With Your Physical and Mental Health, There Is Hope
My dear friends,
There is hope.
I know, right?
It may be really hard to see it right now, but with patience and time, things improve, you get stronger and you begin to manage your health condition better. Sometimes you reach back to full capacity, which yes –this is awesome! But some of the time it’s just the encouragement of reaching back to a place of coping and being able to manage.
But trust me, this hasn’t been easy – even for me.
I definitely don’t want to come from a place where I’m making it sound easier said than done. As I know, this is far from the truth. Nor do I want to come from a place where it sounds impossible because I have seen and experienced, like I’m sure many of you have, the change of outlook and strength phases of your condition.
One of the biggest struggles I’ve had to contend with is how you cope when you are both physically and mentally exhausted and struggling – but how do you manage when one is becoming better and more stable than the other?
But the mental health and the physical aspect of chronic illness is oh so real.
The night I got my flare-up turned my life upside down like I could have never imagined. Since my diagnosis in 2015, the first few months were rough, but things got better and in the first year and a half I could – with proper rest and management – do whatever I wanted and not have the restrictions I now experience.
After attending my friend’s 21st birthday one night in February this year, things changed. I went up to my friends as things didn’t feel right. I felt my body begin to crash, I felt freezing, nauseous, lightheaded, photophobic, my body was doing things I couldn’t explain or even register…to be honest, I was terrified. I couldn’t communicate. The slight touch of someone hurt and all I did was cry. I was in pain, I felt weak and helpless. But man, how incredibly blessed I was and have been for the friends I had around me that night and months since, because that night could have ended much differently.
But this was just the beginning.
The fatigue worsened and I slept so much. I also became an insomniac, getting up to eat what I could just to then go back to bed again to sleep for another so many hours. This then began to affect my mental health. I was so fearful to go out because not only did I not have the energy, but I was so afraid my body would crash without warning and become a burden on those around me.
This fear impacted my outlook on the world. I was so down. I was hopeless, stressed, overwhelmed and anxious about everything – even things I shouldn’t have been anxious about. I stopped going to university, couldn’t see people and became so isolated in my own world, which day in and day out would just continue to destroy and exhaust me.
I became my worst nightmare. I would think and overthink. I lost all purpose, vision and direction. I felt hopeless and useless and I just didn’t want to be around anymore. So not only am I struggling to cope with all the physical stuff, but now I had to deal with depression, anxiety, dissociation and the weakening of my mind. I had given up, even ending up in the hospital one night when I got to my lowest, as I just wasn’t coping.
So how do you possibly cope and manage both?
The common answers to increase good mental health can be as follows: go for a walk, do what you love, listen to music, watch a movie, go talk to a counselor, see a friend and many other things that are commonly suggested.
But how do you do these things when physically making breakfast is exhausting – let alone going for a walk? Or, like me, you may struggle with the symptom of sensory over-stimulation – so how do you listen to music or watch a movie when all you want is silence? But at the same time, you may need something to take away from the anxiousness/ depressive feelings and thoughts. Driving, talking and making constant appointments with doctors and counselors is tiring.
So where does that put leave me? Frustrated, annoyed, exhausted, stressed, hopeless…
My answer is clear: I really don’t have one.
But what I do know is I need to keep trying and trying and trying again to work out what works best for me. What gives me energy and encouragement. What I find helpful and what I don’t. I won’t stop or give up, no matter what others say, how I’m feeling or what those sniggering thoughts are telling me.
I’m still working it all out, how to cope with both, but also how to cope when one is going better than another. My last few weeks have been comprised of a better headspace – feeling like I can take on the world – which leads me to overdo it, making me then crash randomly and become super exhausted.
So really, my answer is: Don’t give up. Because there is hope, even in the darkest, most hurtful and frustrating of seasons.
Stay safe, reach out and let people in, especially if you’re struggling mentally. Call help lines, see your GP, try medication if applicable, see a counselor or similar profession, chat with friends…just please, please don’t give up.
You are not alone.
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Thinkstock photo via ipopba.