The Mighty Logo

How Do You Know Which Days Are 'Good' and 'Bad' When You Feel Sick Every Day?

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

There are good days and bad days when you have good health. If you are unfortunate enough to pick up a gastric bug, you would call this a bad day… even a very bad day! No health complaints, that’s a good day right? I often see people complaining of colds and viruses, as if they are the end of the world. Of course, when you are not used to feeling poorly constantly, these periods of illness are difficult and inconvenient.

Now let’s think about it from a chronic health perspective. How do you know what is a good or a bad day, when you feel very poorly every day? If we took our health as the sole reason for enjoying our day, we would never have a good day. In fact, life would probably be over for most of us. If I only saw my health issues as a negative or an inconvenience, I wouldn’t bother to even get out of my bed. So, what do we do to make life worth living? How do you cope with feeling unwell every day? How do you know what is a good and what is a bad day? How do we find the balance? Well, here is how I do it…

I have learned that good days are like gold dust. They are magical and rare! So I have devised a way of getting around not having good days. I have bad days and better days. For example, if on a Monday my joints are particularly bad, I’ve had limited sleep and my stoma is playing up leading to dehydration, I would call this a fairly bad day (I’ll add that this isn’t a “write off” day, though). So I now have a bar to compare the rest of my week on. Tuesday I wake with the same problems, minus the stoma trouble. I am now better hydrated and have had a bit more sleep. This would now be a better day. It’s not good, it’s not bad but there are some positives to take from it. Days like this are the ones I can mentally deal with. That small bit of hope helps me get through the day. In my mind, I feel that if one day has improved, maybe the next will, too. By thinking like this, I am never giving up.

Back in February 2014, I was at the lowest I’ve ever been. I had accepted I needed antidepressants to get me through each day. I had spent three years in a flare and been through two very difficult pregnancies. I started to believe there was no point going on. I had tried most medications and was getting nowhere fast! My gastroenterologist was very unhelpful and I had accepted I was never going to improve. Where can you go when you’re at rock bottom — up or out! My options had basically run out, so “up” wasn’t an option. I wanted out! I wanted to die! The only thing keeping me here was my family. Thanks to their unwavering love and support, I fought to get better care and changed to a center of excellence for my condition. Suddenly “out” became “up.” I had that little ray of hope again and it kept me alive… just!

From this point on, I decided that even the smallest bit of hope would be my basis for coping. I don’t want to just “survive,” I want to “live,” so by accepting my bad days and embracing my better days, I am giving myself that chance to live. On bad days, I resign myself to a gentle day. This may be staying indoors with my children, watching movies and cuddling. I often have friends pop over to keep me company. Anything that makes the day easier or pass by is helpful. On the odd occasion I will force myself to get out; however, this is often disastrous and leads to more bad days. Bad days command rest, so rest is what they get. For those with good health, can you imagine having to drop everything because your body demands you to? Not knowing how you’re going to feel day-to-day? You can’t plan ahead, because you never know if you’ll be well enough. You can’t predict good and bad days!

two photos of shelley lawes

So what happens when the day is a “write off?” These days are pure hell. I fear these days. Days racked with pain, fatigue, sadness and no hope. On these days, I literally cannot function. Just the thought of moving from my bed can induce floods of tears. My partner James is forever on standby for these days and he fears them as much as I do. It’s difficult asking friends to drop everything and care for the children when I have these days. So James knows that it’s likely he will have to leave work. I do everything I can to avoid this, but I often only want him around. Human interaction is the last thing I want!

Let’s talk about the good days now. Oh the glorious, beautiful, priceless days. I urge you all to never take good days for granted. Do not waste them, by sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. So what you don’t have money, so what you’re feeling fat, so what you have no plans for the weekend, so what you have washing to do? You are able to feel good and this is all you need. Get that washing done, call a friend and make plans, tell yourself you are beautiful and go for a walk (it’s free). It’s the small things that matter, so be humble and wish for nothing more than health and happiness! Good days to me mean being able to get dressed, showered, play with my kids, cook a dinner, clean my house, go out with friends, etc. I grab these days by the balls and enjoy every single second!

Good days remind me that I am truly lucky to be alive. They remind me that I have two gorgeous children, a wonderful partner and the best friends a girl could ask for. I appreciate my skin feeling normal, my scalp not being scabby, my bones not feeling like a hammer has hit them, my bowel digesting healthy food well. Just the smallest bodily function makes me very happy. So next time you wake up, stretch as much as you can. Wiggle your toes, stroke your hair, smile in the mirror, moisturize your body, dress to impress, feel the fresh air on your face, laugh lots, hug more and tell someone who needs a boost; that you love them.

Today is a good day. I feel wonderful and will let nothing bring me down. I am beautiful, I am alive and I love you all.

Follow this journey on Stoma in a Tea Cup.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally published: August 17, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home