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5 Things I Do Because of Chronic Illness That You May Not Realize

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I live with several chronic illnesses and they make certain daily tasks difficult to complete. Over the past six years I have developed ways to make those daily tasks easier so that I can continue to live as “normally” as possible. I guess you could call them chronic illness “hacks,” but most of them you might not even realize I’m doing because of chronic illness.

If you have a chronic illness, let me know if you’ve done any of things too. If you have a friend or family member with a chronic illness, keep an eye out for these subtle ways that their “invisible” illness becomes just a bit more visible.

1. I have short hair. I wear my hair in an angled bob, not because I want to be stylish (though it does sometimes have that effect), but because it is easy to maintain and takes five minutes to style. Showers are a lot less tiring without having to wash hair that comes to the middle of my back.

2. I’m a natural beauty guru. I have a lot of chemical sensitivities and struggle with severe acne caused by polycystic ovary syndrome. I realized that traditional beauty and skincare products were putting an unneeded burden on my body and when I read reports that said that most makeup contains endocrine (hormone) disruptors, that was the last straw. I completely overhauled my makeup bag and skincare products. I use organic, all-natural products and though it hasn’t completely cured my acne, I’ll never go back.

3. I have a bar stool in my bathroom. At first glance it doesn’t seem out of place. In fact, it just seems like a convenient place to set your hair dryer or makeup bag since there isn’t a lot of counter space. Well, I fooled you, didn’t I? I actually have the bar stool there to help me get out of the shower safely and as a place to sit while I do my hair and makeup. I have another bar stool in the kitchen so that I can sit while I cook too.

4. I live in an apartment. It’s not exactly strange for me to live in an apartment. My husband and I recently graduated from college and we can’t exactly afford to buy a house. But we could have chosen to rent a house instead of an apartment. We chose the apartment for a very calculated reason. I need to be able to call someone when faucets leak or drains clog or something needs to be repaired. I also need walks to be shoveled and parking lots to be plowed in the winter and our apartment complex comes with those perks.

5. I’m a minimalist. Yes, minimalism and Scandinavian design seem to be a huge trend right now, but I discovered minimalism a long time ago, and I wasn’t trying to be trendy. Minimalism may be the most life-changing decision that a person with chronic illness can make. It makes cleaning easier, it makes finding things in the midst of brain fog easier, and it keeps anxiety to a minimum. I can deep clean my entire house in 30 minutes because there aren’t a lot of surfaces to dust, knick knacks to move, or clutter to put away. People either love or hate my decorating style. What they don’t realize that it is more of a coping mechanism than a “style” and it makes my life so much simpler.

These are just a few of the things I do to make my days a bit more manageable. The reasons for most of them aren’t obvious to the casual observer, but that’s OK. Chronic illness is a huge part of my life, but there are ways to manage it that can mask the role it plays just a little bit — and I’m all for that.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: January 17, 2017
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