photo of a woman in a farmer costume riding a tractor, and photo of a woman dressed as Jane from Tarzan with her service dog dressed as a gorilla

31 Comfortable Halloween Costumes for People With Chronic Illness


While many look forward to Halloween as an opportunity to dress up, go to parties or partake in trick-or-treating, those of us with chronic illness often have some extra considerations when it comes to preparing for the holiday.

If you have chronic pain or sensitive skin you may have trouble finding a costume that’s not scratchy or uncomfortable, and walking or standing around all night might not be doable if you have chronic fatigue. Others may have mobility issues and require assistive devices such as wheelchairs, canes, crutches, etc. All of this can make the thought of finding a suitable costume and being active or social all night a bit daunting.

However, you can get creative and brainstorm costume ideas that work to your advantage. Whether it incorporates a mobility device or is made of super soft material, these unique costume creations show off the talents and strengths of those in our community. If you’re struggling to find a Halloween costume that will be compatible with your chronic illness, maybe the following will help spark some ideas.

Here are the incredible costumes our community shared with us:

1. “I found a really soft, used, yellow dress at the Salvation Army that didn’t aggravate my CRPS pain as much in my upper body. I wore my white compression socks for my POTS to match the costume, I dressed my big, fluffy black service poodle up as my service gorilla, and boom! Jane and Terk from Disney’s ‘Tarzan!’ As an added bonus, Terk steals one of Jane’s gloves so it didn’t look weird when I only wore one glove (I can’t wear one glove over my worst CRPS hand).” – Neisha Kobrin

woman and her service dog dressed up as Jane (from Tarzan) and a gorilla

2. “Two years ago I was fully dependent on a wheelchair. I love Halloween and made the best out of it. I created a fortune teller table out of my chair. Everyone loved it.” – Justine Reddish

woman dressed as a fortune teller

3. “This was last year. I have to stand six hours per shift with a 30-minute break. I may be using the cane more than a prop when I recreate it this year thanks to my new shadows, fibro and CFS [chronic fatigue syndrome].” – Tamara Mulkey

woman dressed as dr. house

4. “I do like a good corset for the back support! Steampunk costumes are great because people assume my cane is part of the costume (and I get a chance to pull out some of my fancier ones!). I made this entire costume for Comic-Con this year. So proud! Lasted all three days for the first time! (OK, it took me a week to recover, and months to make the costume, but so worth it!)” – Tara Slade-Hall

woman wearing steampunk costume

5. “I’m pretty much homebound, but Halloween is my favorite day because I dress up as a witch and sit on my porch with a cauldron of candy and watch the neighborhood kids grow up year by year.” – Mary Joyce Avery

woman dressed as a witch with a cauldron

6. “I dressed up as Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) complete with cane. Very easy to wear, nice trousers and a few props made it a comfortable yet unexpected outfit.” – Robyn Atcheson

woman dressed as willy wonka

7. “When I first became sick, I injured my hip and ended up in a wheelchair for a while. My friend came over and decorated my wheelchair so I could attend a family costume party. I was ‘Princess Injury on her throne.'” – Kennette Winslow Watkins

woman in a wheelchair dressed as a princess

8. “This is my pirate costume. I wear it for Halloween and for Tampa’s Gasparilla parade. I watched the parade while sitting on my walker.” – Megan McDonald

woman sitting on a walker and dressed as a pirate

9. “Not Halloween, but I dressed up as Raven Reyes from ‘The 100’ for a convention, and since she is disabled (she uses a leg brace, though, whereas I used my wheelchair), it worked out great, and the actress who plays Raven loved it!” – Michaela Martin

woman dressed as raven reyes from the 100

10. Photo from Jessica Gregory

woman dressed as a farmer and riding a tractor

11. “My daughter was Anna from ‘Frozen’ two years ago. It was a lot of work but my husband built the sled out of cardboard for over her power wheelchair. Looked amazing driving down the road.” – Meredith Welch

little girl dressed up as Anna from frozen and riding in a sled built around her wheelchair

12. “I know it’s overdone but this is a great comfortable costume. I found the ears and a tail at a Halloween store and wore leggings and a comfortable T-shirt. And I did fairly basic makeup to tie the look together. It is both easy and a good costume for people with chronic pain/illness because it didn’t have a lot of annoying fabrics. I still have the ears and it is my go-to on Halloween when I don’t have the energy to put something more extravagant together.” – Nicole Hopkins

woman wearing cat costume

13. “I dressed up as Migraine Woman (Wonder Woman’s cousin) for the 2017 Miles for Migraine San Francisco Race. While Wonder Woman fights bad guys, Migraine Woman fights migraine. My costume featured the color purple (migraine advocacy color), Cefaly headband for preventing migraine attacks, a sword made out of medication and supplement bottles, a sun shield, hand warmer wrist bands and an eye mask of peace (instead of a lasso of truth). I received enthusiastic feedback from the Miles for Migraine community and won first prize in the costume contest. People appreciated seeing someone with migraine as a warrior.”

woman dressed in 'migraine woman' costume

14. “Last year my son chose to be Deadpool. So I turned his wheelchair into a chimichanga truck. This year he’ll be the 11th Doctor and his wheelchair will be the Tardis (still working on it).” – Philip J. Van Hise

little boy dressed as deadpool

And check out even more ideas from our community:

15. “This year I’m dressing as a mermaid. It’s a staple costume for those of us for whom standing is an issue! Plus I’m sure the little girls I teach on Mondays will love sitting on the floor and wiggling like mermaids with me.” – Jay Rose Abrams

16. “My go-to in my wheelchair is a queen, and I make the chair a throne!” – Sasha Anne Oates

17. “A ‘Game of Thrones’ character. Then find your throne.” – Tamora Cross

18. “If you need to sit down frequently, royalty is a great costume! If you need a cane it can be your scepter. Plus this opens up a whole bunch of costumes for friends and family to do with you if you want a theme. I was the Queen of Hearts one year and we did an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme.” – Sonia Scotch Scace

19. “Ellie and Carl from the movie ‘Up!'” – Heather Ashley Scofield

20. “I haven’t worn it myself, but the little puppet thing from ‘Saw’ that’s on the bike would be a good one.” – Donna Lee

21. “A friend of mine did Professor X.” – Andrew Terrill

22. “X-wing fighter pilot from ‘Star Wars.'” – Leah Bathurst

23. “My go-to is wearing pajamas and a big robe. I’ll make my hair all messy in a high ponytail. Easy. Comfy. And it works. One year had my whole family do it for our ‘trunk or treat.'” – Erika Hooper Yaman

24. “Any onesie! They are very comfortable, usually fleece, with a long zipper up in the back so you can take on and off whenever you want, and these days, they have a onesie for everything! From animals to superheroes and all different sizes.” – Samantha Rubin

25. “I have gone as a little kid all ready for bed – comfy PJs, a teddy bear and either pigtails or little girl hair accessories and the costume is complete! I have also added a pacifier and a sippy cup some years, too. One-piece pajamas made for adults (a.k.a. big kids at heart) are perfect!” – Jennifer Kusz

26. “Pajamas, bathrobe, towel and you’re Arthur Dent from ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.'” – Lainie Cohen

27. “A month after our son was born my husband and I went to a Halloween party dressed up as new parents. We were in our jammies and slippers. I even had a doll in a baby front-pack carrier. It was super comfy!” – Bettina Culpepper-Broetz

28. “I’ve done Catwoman (my kids were Batman and Robin, husband was Commissioner Gordon) which was a very comfy costume. All spandex unitard with ears and a tail. We typically go as a superhero family and the unitard/skirt outfit is very easy to move in.” – AnneMarie Greenfield

29. “Go as a medical professional or a chef or similar. The clothes are generally comfy and not hard to come by.” – Jessi Fox

30. “Nun in full habit!” – Jo Kotylak

31. “I had the idea this year to wear the hospital gown I got from the ER a few months ago. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet but it sure as hell was comfy when I was having trouble changing for the days after my trip.” – Mikayla Hollis

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Daughter taking picture of mother with cell phone.

Just Because I Smile on Social Media, It Doesn't Mean I'm Healthy


What is a picture? It is a moment in time that someone is trying to capture. Someone is usually trying to get you to smile, say “cheese” or being silly to get you to look happy. If someone isn’t smiling, it is often referred to as a bad picture and gets deleted. People will take 10 pictures to make sure there is a “good one.” Sometimes people really are happy and may even ask for the picture to be taken. Other times you smile because you feel obligated or want to look good for the picture.

People see these pictures get posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media. Sometimes they are shown on someone’s phone, in newspapers, magazines or if they are really lucky, an actual printed picture. These are usually the “good pictures” of them smiling, being silly and having fun. It’s such a small fraction of a second of your day/life but others will judge how a person is doing based on how they look in that picture.

Social media is a great way for a person to get positive comments and feedback. In some cases though, it can bring about negative thoughts and feelings because someone else got more “likes” than their picture. Some people compare their lives to how others live theirs and don’t feel like they are doing enough or are good enough. But how often do people post pictures of themselves hurting, crying, angry or not smiling? How often do they even post bad things about their lives unless someone has died or something significantly bad has happened? It seems not many people open themselves up to let the world know how they are doing on a daily basis.

Sadly pictures, especially on social media, are now often a way people feel they know others best, and may even believe they can vouch for how others’ lives are going. I have heard people say, “I saw ___ on Facebook or Instagram the other day and they seemed to be doing good.” I don’t believe they have bad intentions, but honestly how do they have a clue what is going on based on a post? Even 20 years ago, you wouldn’t think of assuming how someone was doing based on a picture without having a conversation with them first.

Now that social media is the norm and the easiest way to connect with people, it can also be the fastest way to misread situations and even judge others. The worst part is that it has caused some people to forget to check in and talk to each other. People have gotten so used to social media that they assume because it was “posted” people automatically should know about it. I have missed that people died because I hadn’t been on Facebook. I heard about it after the fact and was told, “They posted it on Facebook.”

Social media has taken away personal contact with others more and more. Often the most human contact people have is casually walking by someone and saying “Hi, how are you?” Everyone usually answers “good” because sometimes people don’t even wait to hear the answer if it was different than “good.” This has somehow turned into a polite norm rather than honest communication. It’s difficult and often awkward when this is the only in person contact people have with others, because if they aren’t doing good how do they respond. You don’t really want to say “good” because you aren’t, but don’t want to say bad because there isn’t usually time to elaborate. This is where an answer like “Living the dream” comes in handy.

Why do people try to portray such happiness and positivity if things are so bad? I think it’s more likely that it is nice to have some positive moments to post about than a desire to portray something fake or inaccurate. I know when I am not having good times in life, I still want my kids and family to remember happy and fun things rather than me hurting. It’s hard trying to find the best mix of sharing with others what’s happening, especially the bad times.

Please don’t fall into the trap of determining how a person is doing based on the pictures in the posts you see, the pictures where someone is telling them to smile. Next time, before you assume you know how someone is doing or you are wondering how they are doing, pick up your phone and give them a call or ask to meet in person. Remember a picture isn’t always as it appears.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Goodshoot.

woman looking at the sunrise on a beach

What to Remember on Days Your Illness Makes You Feel Like Giving Up


Dear You,

You are absolutely right. This does suck, it’s not fair, you do deserve better. This is not what you had planned and you would have done more if you had been given the chance. But you weren’t given that chance and my heart breaks for you.

I won’t tell you it gets easier or better. You probably wouldn’t believe me if I did and let’s face it, it may not get easier. It may not get better. It may get harder and it may get worse. I won’t tell you not to lose hope, that one day there will be a cure for your incurable illnesses, that you need to be strong and try new treatments as they become available. I won’t tell you not to lose hope when they don’t work.

 

I won’t tell you this is all part of some plan, that it’s for the best. I won’t tell you this will make you a better and stronger person or that what you’re going through is a lesson of some sort. I won’t play the comparison game and tell you “at least it’s not (insert something here).” You’re smarter than that.

I won’t tell you to be grateful for what you have and to be thankful you’re as lucky as you are. I won’t guilt and shame you into putting on a smile because “you’re depressing everyone around you.” So what? Feel what you need to feel.

I won’t tell you to exercise more or eat better. I won’t tell you to get a better night’s sleep and to stop napping. I won’t tell you about this pill my aunt’s cousin’s best friend’s father took for a completely unrelated condition and that it cured him. You’ve had enough false hope to last you a lifetime.

I will tell you that you are brave. Most people wouldn’t be able to do what you do on a daily basis. You have made it through 100 percent of your bad days and you are capable of making it through this one too. Cry, if you need to. Scream into a pillow. Talk to a friend. Have a photoshoot with your dog. Find one thing that will make this day bearable. Find it and do it. You owe it to yourself.

I know it’s overwhelming. I also know you can do it. I know that, just for today, you can do it. Just for today, you can find the strength. Just for today, you can be hopeful. Just for today, you can hang in there. One day at a time. I believe in you.

I love you.

You are worth it.

Love,
You

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via FrancescoCorticchia.

aaron carter with his finger to his lips

What to Keep in Mind When Aaron Carter Posts About His Health


Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Megan Griffo, The Mighty’s editor in chief, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.

What the hell is going on with Aaron Carter?

If you, like me, pay close attention to the Twittersphere (and in the past… but definitely not anymore… had “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)” in your music library), you too may have asked yourself this question after reading recent reports on the once beloved child pop star.

In July, after making headlines for a DUI arrest in Georgia, Carter, 29, faced intense body-shaming for his thin frame. A week later he told Entertainment Tonight he’d been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia when he was 19 and has since lost weight from the pain and discomfort of his condition.

Our Mighty chronic illness community, as well as Carter’s fans, empathized with the singer, recognizing how difficult it is to watch your body change when you have little to no control over it.

Carter, who’s also stated he deals with anxiety, came under scrutiny again in mid-September when he appeared on “The Doctors” and allowed the show’s medical experts to test his health claims. He tested negative for all illegal drugs as well as any infections in his liver, thyroid and kidneys and for STDs including HIV. However, doctors Jorge Rodriguez and Travis Stork discovered candida in his throat, which they said can be a sign of a weakened immune system. They also said he was malnourished, with a body mass index in a “scary range.” Carter tested positive for prescription drugs used to treat anxiety and pain, leaving Stork and Rodriguez concerned he might mix his medications, which can be deadly.

“In my opinion, you’re not healthy… physically right now, I think your body is hanging on by a thread, seriously,” Rodriguez said. “[Your mind] has to calm down… you are going a million miles a minute… until there is peace in your mind, the rest is not going to follow.”

On Friday, Carter tweeted that he will be “disappearing” for awhile to take care of his health, while simultaneously promoting his upcoming single, album and new version of his 2000 hit “I Want Candy,” all for which he’s received a wide spectrum of both support and judgment.

His note read:

My loved ones,

I would like to tell all of you that I will be disappearing for a while to work on myself. I would also like to announce that I am releasing a gift to yo uon Oct 27. In time for Halloween, a new version of “I Want Candy” . 4 Weeks Later, I will be releasing my first single from my new album, LOVE . I’ll see you soon looking amazing and ready to play my new songs LIVE. Most importantly my stressors haven’t subsided with family and this year has been crazy and I need some time off from all of it.

Going to get strong. And deal with my stress conditions and get better.

“We can talk about this when I’m done taking care of myself,” Carter added. “that (sic) goes to everyone especially the medias. I’m gonna have a lot to say. Thanks.”

You’d think as the editor of The Mighty, I’d be better than this, but as a self-admitted cynical patient, I’m often skeptical when celebrities open up about their health while also promoting their work. That’s not fair of me, but I’m not alone in feeling this way. A few months ago we polled our chronic illness community on how they feel when celebrities tell their health stories. The responses were mixed but thoughtful, and our readers mostly showed concern over whether the celeb was sharing accurate information.

Carter is an interesting case study because he seems to be in the midst of his diagnosis struggles versus celebrities who have been dealing with a condition for awhile before they discuss it with the media. Despite the support, with every article we’ve reported on him, the criticism rolls in too — most of which anyone with a chronic illness has also heard.

“He’s doing this for attention.”

“He’s making this up.”

“That’s not what my experience is like.”

“Is he even sick?”

Though he’s on haiatus, the chances Carter will once again talk about his health when he returns are high. So before that happens, I want to make a suggestion:

We need to give Aaron Carter a break.

I’ll explain why.

The confusion that comes with any diagnosis is real, and it can be uncomfortable and frustrating.

About a year ago when I started experiencing chronic headaches, some so intense I’d lose balance while walking, I was catapulted into the unpleasant world of seeking a diagnosis and the right treatment. With each new appointment, doctor, symptom and prescription came two unavoidable consequences: confusion and frustration. What questions do I ask? What search terms do I Google? How do I feel about this? How do I feel about me? Should I get another opinion? Do I have enough money to pay for another opinion?

My moods fluctuated, too. With friends and family, one minute I’d want to talk about nothing but my health and the next I’d want to pretend like nothing had changed. One minute I’d feel empowered as a patient, ready to demand help, and the next I’d feel defeated, opting to instead hide in my bed. I could sometimes feel myself contradicting things I’d said the day before. Treat me like this. No, treat me like that. Thanks for your help. No, actually you could be doing a lot more. Just listen! But do you have any advice? I’m an advocate! Please don’t define me by my diagnosis. 

I imagine many of you have flip-flopped like this too. Because diagnoses, even when you’ve had one for a long time, leave a lot of room for grappling with feelings — but most of us don’t have to do the grappling in the public eye.

When you’re first learning how to navigate a diagnosis, symptom, prescription, etc., it can feel like nothing makes sense. We all cope with this differently. We talk it out with friends and family. We turn to professionals. Sometimes we stay silent until we’ve had time to digest the news.

At the start of all this, Carter didn’t really get to decide if he wanted to stay silent — yes, you can argue the attention all started with his arrest, but most people don’t make TMZ for breaking the law. The media forced him to publicly navigate and explain his health — an already tricky task made more complicated when a stranger with a camera stands outside your home and yells invasive questions at you. Yes, he didn’t have to then go on television to be further diagnosed — but we’re also talking about someone who’s been in the spotlight since he was 7 and who may be feeling pressure to handle everything in a “celebrity-like” way.

Carter isn’t a “veteran” health advocate (yet) — he’s probably dealing with a lot of confusion and frustration, so maybe we can cut him some slack if he slips up, misrepresents a condition, or says something others consider inappropriate.

I would love for Carter to become a health advocate, but we can’t force him to be one. 

Do people in the public eye have a responsibility to be more thoughtful when discussing health? When we asked our community, many said influencers need to take responsibility for everything they say and how it can be perceived, while also acknowledging they may not represent the average person’s experience with a condition. This is why many applauded Lady Gaga’s documentary, where she brought up the fact that most do not have the resources she does to deal with illness, while also being careful but honest in describing her fibromyalgia.

That’s a lot of pressure, and we can’t expect this of Carter just yet. He hasn’t been a healthcare rights champion in the past, and he’s new to talking about health.

What we can do is ask him to consider the ramifications of talking about diagnoses in the public eye. We can ask him to elevate voices of health advocates. We can ask him to support nonprofits that do this work every day. We can ask him to get educated while he works on feeling better, so when he’s ready, he can be a spokesperson we rely on and trust to spread accurate information and inspire change.

Whether we like it or not, he has the right to refuse all this. How he navigates and talks about his health is his choice, though it’s frustrating when people with platforms don’t work to help greater causes.

Despite my instinct to pick apart how and why celebrities discuss their health, at the end of the day, I remember most of us are just trying to do the best we can. Carter is probably just doing the best he can, too. So maybe as he works through this, we can take what he says with a grain of salt, continue advocating for our own causes, and hope he one day helps us do so.

In the mean time, we can all enjoy this:

soap dispenser and razor with grip

19 Products That Can Make Showering Easier If You Have a Chronic Illness or Disability


For the average person, taking a warm, luxurious shower might be one of the best parts of the day. However, what many people consider a brief, everyday activity can actually be one of the most challenging chores for those with chronic illness.

Standing in the shower, picking up bottles of soap and shampoo and scrubbing your entire body can quickly lead to fatigue, dizziness and pain. Often, these tasks don’t all get done in one go, and they certainly don’t happen every single day. Just know that if showering is difficult for you, you are not alone.

To help those who struggle with showering, we asked our Mighty community to share which products they use to help make showering easier with a chronic illness. Here are their recommendations.

Just so you know, we’ve selected these links to make shopping easier for you. We do not receive any funds from purchases you make.

1. Shower Seat

Shower chair for people with a disability or chronic illness.

Whether you struggle with fatigue, chronic pain or dizziness, having a place to sit can make showering so much easier. It can also be helpful for propping up your legs to shave or scrubbing hard-to-reach parts of your body.

Normala DeLaney told us, “Shower chairs or stools. I can’t stand up long enough to finish showering even on medium pain days so my shower stool is a lifesaver. Great for shaving legs without too much bending. I also love it on pain days when I just needed a hot shower on my back to relax it and all I do is just sit under it till I feel better.”

“My shower seat!” said Samantha Rubin. “Wouldn’t make it out alive without it! It doesn’t get any better than being able to sit when I need to yet I’m still able to do what I need to…wash hair, face, etc. Showers have always been a major challenge for me as fainting is very common for me, especially when I get hot. I used to dread showering but my helpful friend lets me take breaks and doesn’t let me stand that long so I’ll take it!”

Buy the shower seat above for $31.49 from Amazon.

2. Pump Bottles

blue pump bottles

Buying large bottles of shampoo, conditioner and soap is often cheaper in terms of price per ounce, but they can be heavy, awkward and slippery to handle in the shower. Try filling a few pump bottles with your favorite bath products – that way you don’t have to expend precious spoons on lifting and prying open the lids of regular bottles.

Janey Grover wrote, “I use push pump shower gels, shampoo and conditioner bottles. It’s so much easier on ouchie mornings with stiff, achey hands. Having to squeeze bottles is hard. Now I can just push down the dispenser and hey, presto! So much easier.”

Buy the pump bottles above for $8.99 from Amazon.

3. Shower Water Filter

shower water filter

If you are sensitive to chemicals or odors, a water filter can help purify the water in your shower by removing chlorine, heavy metals, sulfur odor, bacteria and sediment, making the water feel “softer.”

“Shower head that filters chlorine out,” recommended Sarah Langer. “I’m chemically sensitive, and the chlorine in the water makes my skin painful and tender, and it hurts to breathe in the steam. The filter has helped calm all those problems down to a minor and tolerable level!”

Buy the shower filter above for $32.99 from Amazon.

4. Dove Shower Foam

dove foam soap

This foam body wash makes it super easy to lather up your skin with minimal effort and minimal scrubbing. Plus it comes in a pump bottle – so you don’t have to deal with lifting or holding it in the shower.

Alison Wonderland said, “My Dove brand shower foam…so much gentler against my skin than a washcloth or loofah! Sometimes I’m so sensitive that the water stream hurts…this foam has made it so much better.”

Buy the shower foam above for $11.66 from Amazon.

5. 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner

suave 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner

Washing your hair can be exhausting, painful or even cause dizziness from keeping your arms elevated. Instead of going through the motions twice, try using a 2-in-1 product to combine shampooing and conditioning.

Tawnie Ashley wrote, “I occasionally like to use 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioners to save time/energy.”

Buy the shampoo/conditioner above for $2.94 from Amazon.

6. Non-Slip Bath Mat

green non-slip bath mat

Showers can be dangerously slippery whether you’re sick or healthy – but for those who have conditions that cause you to struggle with balance or dizziness, a non-slip bath mat can be extremely helpful (and keep you safe!).

Cindy Sink Kepley recommended, “A shower mat not only on the floor of the tub but placed over the side so it isn’t slippery.”

Buy the bath mat above for $8.71 from Amazon.

7. Spa Gloves

spa gloves

Wearing a pair of these gloves while showering (or bathing) means you can scrub and exfoliate your hands as well as the rest of the body – without having to hold on to a sponge or loofah.

Chailine Markey said, “They exfoliate, make it easier to grip even when soapy and are under $2 at most Big Lots and dollar stores. These have been the biggest help for me with my rheumatoid-arthritis-damaged hands.”

Buy the gloves above (four pairs) for $5.98 from Amazon.

8. Soap Dispenser

soap dispenser for the shower with three compartments

Similar to pump bottles, a soap dispenser is another great alternative to lifting heavy bottles in the shower. One benefit of the dispenser is you can attach it to the wall in your shower at whatever height works best for you, so you don’t have to bend over to access it.

Michelle MyBelle told us, “I couldn’t live without a liquid soap dispenser like this one [featured above]. No more bending down or struggling to pick up and open several different bottles with each shower. It’s installed at just the right height for me.”

Buy the dispenser above for $19.99 from Amazon.

9. Grip Bars

shower grip bar

If you struggle with exhaustion, dizziness or balance, installing several grip bars in your shower can help keep you safe and prevent accidents or injuries. Bars that suction onto the wall (like the one above) can easily be moved or even packed for travel.

Jordan Lum said, “I highly recommend having the [grip] bars. Those have been lifesavers for me when I’ve almost fallen down or slipped!”

“I put in a [grip] bar and it’s priceless! It keeps me from falling backwards when I rinse my hair. My balance is terrible now!” added Jennifer Strickland Deese.

Buy the grip bar above for $15.48 from Amazon.

10. Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Bath Wash

johnson's baby bath wash

Just because the label says “baby” doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy this bath wash, too! It is gentle and has calming aromas that can help you relax.

Jill Kessler said, “[I] use the Johnson’s baby soothing aromatherapy wash as it helps with headaches.”

Buy the wash above for $4.88 from Amazon.

11. Microfiber Washcloths

microfiber washcloths

If you have chronic pain or sensitive skin, it can be difficult to find towels that aren’t too hard or scratchy. Microfiber tends to be very soft, which would be especially helpful for washing your face or other sensitive areas.

“Microfiber washcloths are very soft and don’t hurt my sensitive complex regional pain syndrome skin as much as normal ones do,” said Sally Rolfe.

Buy the washcloths above (set of five) for $8.99 from Amazon.

12. Razor With Grip Handle

razor with large grip handle

For those who struggle with muscle control or weakness, handling a razor (especially when it’s wet and slippery in the shower) can be a challenge. A large grip handle can make the razor much easier to hold onto.

Deborah Furniss said she uses razors with large grip handles so she doesn’t drop them.

Buy the razor and grip handle above for $14.95 from Amazon.

13. Adjustable and Detachable Shower Head

sliding adjustable and detachable shower head

Having a shower head that is both adjustable and detachable can be helpful in a variety of ways for those with chronic illness. If you are sitting down on a shower seat, you can slide the shower head down so it is just above you, rather than being several feet higher. Detaching it gives you more control over where the water hits you.

Khana Kassandra Carvajal said, “[A] handheld shower head is life. Allows me to get a quick cleaning when I don’t have the energy but really need to shower.”

“Adjustable shower head,” Jill DeVol told us. “They make ones that slide up and down so you can take an actual real shower sitting down with normal water pressure. I had one in my college dorm and I’m dying to get one at home.”

April Less told us she uses a shower head with a lower shower head that can reach her while she’s sitting.

Buy the shower head above for $58.99 from Amazon.

14. Swivel Shower Chair

swivel shower chair

A swivel shower chair not only allows you to sit down during your shower, but you can also easily rotate to be in or out of the stream of water and reach bath products at both ends.

Amber Roth said, “I’ve got a swivel shower chair and a shower head that detaches. There are days where I’ve subluxed joints, including ribs, just getting out of bed. So everything from washing my hair to shaving is exhausting. The chair allows me to at least halfway relax and swivel around instead of shifting my weight too much and stressing painful areas.”

Buy the swivel chair above for $179.99 from Amazon.

15. Long-Handled Loofah

long-handled loofah

If you struggle to wash certain spots of your body due to chronic pain, hypermobility, stiffness, etc., a long-handled loofah might make those areas a bit easier to reach.

Diana Estell Butler wrote, “[I use] my shower poof/loofah attached to a long stick, since my arms don’t work well and I can’t reach most of my torso.”

Buy the loofah above for $8.49 from Amazon.

16. Shower Caddy

shower caddy with wall suction

For many with chronic illness, bending over or reaching up to access your bath products can be painful or trigger other symptoms, such as dizziness – which can be dangerous when you’re in the shower. If you’re searching for a shower caddy, make sure to find one that keeps all your products at an accessible height.

“I am all about not falling!” said Tawnie Ashley. “Shower caddies are great for keeping everything at an easily accessible height and preventing slip risk.”

Buy the shower caddy above for $19.91 from Amazon.

17. LUSH Shampoo Bars

lush shampoo bar

These shampoo bars from LUSH offer a smaller and easier to handle alternative to big bottles of liquid shampoo. They are packed with essential oils and are supposed to last for up to 80 washes.

Jacinta Howells told us, “LUSH hard shampoo. Froths quick and easy and no need for conditioner. Helps my dry scalp too. And it lasts ages!”

Melissa Mansell also recommended, “LUSH just bought out a solid shower gel, I find it so easy to use. I can just grab it, rub some of it on, lather with a shower puff and let it rinse off. It makes a massive difference not having to mess around picking up and opening bottles!”

Buy the shampoo bar above for $21.43 from Amazon.

18. Hand Towels

green hand towels

If large, bath towels are difficult for you to use due to pain or limited mobility, a hand towel (or a few!) might be a more manageable option.

Kim Hobbs-Paolino said, “I use a small towel to dry off. A regular size is too heavy for my hands and the hand towel is easer to maneuver.”

Buy the hand towels above (set of six) for $25.50 from Amazon.

19. Water Pressure Regulator

water pressure regulator

While some might find a shower with high pressure helps them relax and feel better, others might prefer low pressure if they have chronic pain or sensitive skin. Either way, installing a water pressure regulator can help make sure your shower is at the perfect setting for you.

Tiffanie Burrows wrote, “Water flow regulator. If the water pressure is too high it really hurts my skin. My boyfriend likes high water pressure. This has a little lever that you can move to allow more or less water pressure. Easy to install and use. And pretty inexpensive, too.”

Buy the pressure regulator above for $10.99 from Amazon.

Have a product you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

An artistic sketch of a young woman's face with flowers in her hair.

My Illness Doesn't Make Me Unworthy of Love and Friendship


It was over two years ago when my symptoms worsened, I got hospitalized and my life changed drastically. As I still had two years of high school to go through and was used to being with my friends at school and during my free time activities, the biggest change was brought along with the fact that I had to stop going to school with the others. I got an individual program and was learning everything myself at home and only came to school every now and then to take the tests and exams.

I also abandoned my hobbies and doing music, and was bound to spent most of my time for the next two years, at home or at the hospital.

At that moment everything changed.

Naturally, a majority of my relationships were affected as well – and it wasn’t a positive influence that my illness had on my relationships. Actually, as I’m sitting here, I can’t think of a relationship that wouldn’t be affected by my chronic illness in some way. The moment I was hospitalized and then never really got back to school feels like an imaginary dividing line of my life and I can’t help but see myself very isolated from the world around me.

My relationships with everyone, including my family members and my own relationship with myself, started changing.

I live in a small town from which it took about an hour to get to school and I’ve never found friends here. All the friends I’ve ever had were from different cities or the town of my school and suddenly I felt myself being completely isolated.

My fault was, perhaps, that I naively expected for things to stay more or less the same, in particular the way people look at me.

But what happened instead was that most people started seeing me just as my illness. Whenever I came by to school I got weird looks from everyone who noticed I wasn’t there – and who knew just a little bit or nothing about the reasons, since I was not keen on sharing any intimate details which were difficult for even myself to grasp. I suddenly got people commenting on the changes in my appearance freely as if they were entitled to comment on my fluctuating weight every single time they saw me. It was as if they gained the right to tell me I look awful, or didn’t look sick at all, and judge whether I was actually ill.

I found that most people felt like the things they wouldn’t normally comment on were acceptable to talk about when they were talking to me as a chronically ill person.

I was losing so many things I loved and used to do, I was struggling to feel anything positive towards myself. I felt like hating myself for being ill, and in the middle of that I couldn’t get people to ask me about anything else than my illness. I understood that part of it was people being genuinely concerned and a part of it was the inevitable gossip among my classmates. Part of the struggle was the fact that everyone thought I was just overreacting, being dramatic and avoiding school on purpose.

I got so many people telling me that I am so lucky to be ill because I didn’t have to go to school. Yet, I was struggling with the physical pain I was being put through by my illness, and I was not doing well mentally. I felt isolated from everyone who used to be my friend and thought I wouldn’t be able to finish high school. And I really wanted nothing more than to just go back to school and be with everybody else, and go back to doing everything I used to enjoy.

Unfortunately, even some doctors shared the views of people around me. They kept telling me I was just too sensitive and everything would disappear if I just wasn’t thinking about it, wasn’t so dramatic, or simply didn’t want to avoid going to school so badly.

I tried to meet all the remarks that made me so uncomfortable with calmness and kindness. I felt that I had the best shot at making my friends understand what feels off about their remark and explain to them why something bothered me. I genuinely wanted to just talk about it so we could all understand where the other is coming from.

Yet nothing I did was right. If I was at home, I was just being “lazy” and “avoiding my responsibilities.” If I went somewhere, because I still wanted to have some fun and just live – even if I just went shopping with my mum – it was frowned upon, because then I mustn’t have been as sick as I was telling everyone. It was like finding myself in a trap and desperately just wanting to belong, even if I acted like it didn’t matter as much to me.

Immediately, I stopped being invited to any celebrations or events, I didn’t get texts or calls, nobody came to visit me and then I got scolded for not making enough effort to keep in touch.

All this has been affecting me for two years and I eventually understood that the isolation my chronic illness put me in due to the limitations it brings, is not something that I deserve or should just get used to. It used to trouble me a lot and for quite a long time as to how most friends disappeared from my life, how I saw they looked at me differently and how I didn’t do more to keep them in my life.

After all this time, finding new friends at university I am soon to start, I know I am not a worse person for being chronically ill, or for having certain symptoms and for being in pain. I am not a lesser or unworthy person, and I know who is really my friend.

Still, looking back, I wish I had the courage to stand up for myself and tell people around me what I thought. I wish I could tell them that I am still me, that I am not just my illness and there’s still so much more to me. I want to tell them that I don’t love them any less just because I can’t be around them as much, and that I wish to keep in contact with them.

I wish I had the courage to tell those who I wanted to keep in my life that my illness doesn’t make me unworthy of love and friendship. I am not to blame for my illness, and it’s not only my illness affecting the friendship – it’s also their view on it and on me as a chronically ill person.

And at last, I wish I had realized far earlier that those who do not wish to be in my life, because I am chronically ill and they felt it was too difficult for them, because it’s a burden for them, they’re uncomfortable talking about it, or are not interested in correcting their ableism and other reasons… they do not deserve to be my life are not worth all the sadness I felt for losing their friendship.

I find chronic illness a very lonely and isolated place for me, but I am not to blame for my illness. I am trying to be gentle with myself and not to blame myself for not having friends due to being ill. I am working on forgiving people who I feel have wronged me in this situation and am leaving all this in the past. Instead, I’m now looking forward to making friends who accept me for who I am.

I have had one friend stay with me through it all. She doesn’t flinch when I talk about my illness and she also talks to me about many different things. She still invites me to her birthday parties, and she picks me up when she wants to see me. In her eyes, I feel like I haven’t changed due to being chronically ill – and thanks to her friendship, I’ve realized that chronic illness doesn’t make me unworthy of genuine friendship and love… and for that I am forever grateful.

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Thinkstock Image By: piyapong sayduang

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