When Your Best Form of Self-Care Is a Hibernation Bubble

Over the course of my illness I have learned a few things that have helped me immensely during my worst flare times. One of my most important “coping tricks” is my hibernation bubble. This is my fortress of solitude, my self-care zone. Every few weeks (or sometimes every week) when my symptoms get so intense that they overwhelm every single one of my senses, I activate my hibernation bubble.

You may be thinking, “What on earth is a hibernation bubble?” Well, it’s pretty much like it sounds: I go into my form of hibernation. I log out of most, if not all, of my social media accounts. This is not because I don’t love my friends, but I’m an extremely empathetic person and my emotions and stress levels can send this horrible illness into more of a devastating spiral, if I don’t control them.

Another part of the bubble is, I don’t have people over. It’s nothing personal, but I don’t want you to see me like this. I can’t get my house clean or presentable, and I can’t entertain anyone. I can’t even handle myself, let alone adding more people and their stresses into the mix.

I give myself permission to not answer texts or messages or right away, without feeling guilty about it. This is huge. I use to feel guilty about not responding right away, but there are times where I need to focus on me and my needs and not what other people need. This sounds incredibly selfish and it took me a long time to be OK and not be overwhelmed with guilt for this. But, me and my health are also important, and if I can’t take care of myself I won’t be able to help my friends. It’s a win-win, actually. I get to recharge and get myself better so that I can actually focus, give my best advice, and be the friend they need me to be, instead of this weird brain-fogged zombie with sometimes terrible advice.

Now I know that no human contact is not good, and isolation can be overwhelming as well. So, when I’m feeling semi “with it,” I log into certain social media accounts. I have found that Snapchat and my hibernation bubble cannot co-exist and that’s fine. It goes back to I don’t want people to see me like this. I know it’s hard for them, and it’s hard for me too.

The other side is, I would much rather be out there with them doing what they’re doing: shopping, going out for drinks and food, hiking, etc. But, that’s not in the realm of possibilities for me in my flare times, and I don’t need the added guilt of not being able to be with them… or having the heartache of knowing they know I’m sick, so they didn’t even ask me to go.

I’m extremely careful when logging into Facebook from my hibernation bubble. I usually check The Mighty and read their articles to help boost my spirits and not feel so alone. I scroll past anything that is controversial, and I don’t even try to read articles that I know will upset me.

I have found that Instagram is amazing for my hibernation bubble. I love to go to ocean dive accounts and look through their underwater videos and pictures. One of my favorite places to be is snorkeling in the water. This allows me to feel connected to something that I love and gives me positive feelings, which can be very helpful for putting me on the course to healing. I also love watching (and re-watching) my favorite movies and shows on Netflix. It allows me to put my focus elsewhere for a little bit, and not be consumed by my flare.

For my fellow chronic illness warriors who are also struggling right now – know that you are not alone. Give yourself permission to activate your hibernation bubble, without any guilt. If it helps, just let your friends and families know you need to rest and do some self-care. They will understand, and they want you to be your best self.

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