Whether newly diagnosed or in the trenches for years, being a patient of an illness or disability can feel daunting. Slowly or quickly, you pick up the signs of losing control. Each human wants ultimate control of their own life. And losing it demoralizes you.
There are some days I don’t like who I am. I feel my disease. I feel like the independence I fought so hard to get slipping away. My disease has and will continue to progress over time if I cannot get it under control.
When I told someone important to me about my diagnosis, this person immediately decided for me that I needed to move home. That I wasn’t going to be able to come out of this and proper care will only be available there. This made no sense to me. And I refuse to oblige that request.
I’ve been looking at my life but avoiding the truth at times. Sometimes I don’t want to admit that my body is sick. But I feel everyday something from my illness. You can react to your diagnosis logically or emotionally. And dictate how your life will go from there.
As Albert Einstein is famously quoted, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. So if you do nothing to fix yourself, you, by Einstein’s definition, are insane.
Let’s take a look of what you can do to avoid this insanity and come out of the rut or loss of control you may face.
Logically, lay out your life. Work, hobbies, meetings, obligations, etc. Choose one or two items that can be removed. If you feel like everything in your life is important, see where you can take a short sabbatical and potentially return without much issue. If you are on the board of an organization, stepping down and letting an interim person partake is usually easier especially if it’s discreetly understood why. There is no need to announce your difficulties unless you want to publicly. A common thought is if you step down you are losing control. But if you have too many things to juggle and you are a sloppy juggler, it’s not very pleasant to watch. Become a master of the things most important to you in life. Instead of juggling 8 things, master the 5 most important or even the 3 most important. A jack of all trades is a master of none.
Leverage what you can to others. I leveraged out the cleaning of my home to a professional. Every 2 weeks I come home to a spotless house and it is worth what I pay ($50). What usually takes me half a day or more to do and a lot of build up energy and mental interest wise is now done within 2 hours while I’m not home and I never lift a finger. If you have children or a partner in the home, work as a team and talk about your needs and assistance from them. Or if you have a great friend or neighbor, see if they can work with you on a leverage situation you need, ie. grocery shopping, pet walking. Use resources like auto bill pay through your bank, or auto refills with delivery from your pharmacy so you won’t forget.
Consider your eating habits. I’m not saying go cold turkey into veganism or other extreme lifestyle change, but see where you can change one small thing. An example can be reducing the number of times you eat out and cook one extra meal or two at home. Or instead of buying processed foods, create your own at home and meal plan with tupperware containers. Or if you avoid breakfast or skip meals, bring food to work with you in a small bag. Make easy homemade trail mix or tote around a banana. Just something to start your day. My biggest issue is water consumption. In the past, I’ve marked up a bottle or gallon jug and made a competition with myself to hit each line and time mark. Each time mark had a positive affirmation on it. Below is the example I created my jug from.
Consider adding mediation in your life. Even 5 minutes of being mindful is precious. It will clear your mind even when things creep into your mediation. There are lots of YouTube videos that will guide you through mediation. Over time build your mediation length and connect to the present. Light exercise and stretching will also invigorate the body and mind. Even just a few movements can awaken your body.
Just add what you can, subtract what takes away for a quality life, and keep moving forward one step at a time.
Love and Compassion,