In 2009 I started to learn about blogging and got to spend some time learning the ropes from Kelly McCausey. That came to a crashing halt in 2010 when I began to experience catastrophic neurological symptoms which led to my diagnosis of cervical dystonia. It would be almost a year before I could sit in front of a computer again. Fast forward a few years to 2013. Beginning to feel better and become more productive, I read a few time management books and resolved that 2014 would be the year that I blogged intentionally and started a virtual assistant business. I planned to devote daily time to gentle exercise like yoga and walking. I started a Whole30. So many plans.
Then January began and I got sick with one of those nameless viral plagues that makes you feel like crap all over. I had it for a week. It went a way for a few days, came back and didn’t go away. Sore throat, extreme fatigue, muscle aches, GI woes. I told my allergist who is also an immunologist what was going on and he ordered a battery of tests.
A few days after my labs I learned that I had mononucleosis in addition to a sputtering thyroid. At 51, I was a late bloomer.
The familiar fog of depression began to envelope me. I spent a lot of time in bed worrying about a lot of things. I began to feel suffocated, overwhelmed and out of control.
In 2014 when I originally published this post I wrote the following…
I’m not feeling awful all the time. The nausea and brain fog seem to set in during the afternoon so I can still find moments to write and read the Bible and some learning materials. I just have to redeem the good moments to read constructively, find time for some movement (yoga is good for lymph glands) and cook so that I have what I need available during those times I don’t have the energy to cook.
I know this will (hopefully) pass. I’ve heard stories about mono taking as long as eight months to go away. That’s pretty depressing to think about. I’m doing every natural health protocol I can find and I’m thinking about visiting a twelve step meeting. But no matter what I can or can’t do, I can redeem the time with intentional living, even when I’m housebound and stuck in bed.
Later that year, the worst of it did pass and it didn’t take eight months. However, I do still struggle with fatigue and since then seem to be a little more prone to strep and occasional flaresIllness of any type makes my dystonia symptoms worse but I’m still pushing forward. I’ve started blogging regularly and have some clients.
I’ve learned that there are still lots of things that I can do, but I have to be careful about over doing it.
How to find balance while living with chronic illness
The hard lesson I’ve had to learn over the past few years is how to balance setting goals with my physical reality. Time continues to march on. For me, finding balance while living with chronic illness and the chronic pain that goes with it starts with making spiritual disciplines a priority. That means daily devotions, yoga, mindful living practices and continuous self examination.
First things first. For without Him, I can do nothing. Or as He said…”Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and ALL these things shall be added unto you.”
“I could only write worthwhile content when I walked with God, listened to God, and knew God intentionally. If anything I wrote was going to be of use to another person, it was because God spoke to me about it first.” — Tricia Goyer, Balanced, Finding Center as a Work-At-Home Mom.
Here are some things that help me as a mother living with chronic illness
*Technology – If my symptoms are flaring, there are lots of tasks that I can do from my laptop or tablet while resting in bed. It’s a great feeling to feel like I’m doing something productive instead of vegetating on Facebook or Netflix (nothing wrong with that once in awhile though!)
*Time management – At my stage in life, I should have figured this out by now but I’m still learning. I tend to bite off more than I can chew and get really disorganized which is stressful. Having a bullet journal helps me to see what my priorities are and what is realistic for my energy level on any given day.
*Keep expectations simple – I often feel like I’m on the sidelines watching other families do things that we can’t. But I am learning to find joy in the simplicity of my life and being home much of the time. I keep an eye out for serendipities – little things that bring me joy no matter how I’m feeling like being with my pets and finding quiet things to do with the kids that don’t tax me.
*Communication – Talk to your family and friends about the limitations that you’re living with and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
*Small daily steps – It might be 30 minutes a day, but it’s still something. I just have to be faithful to take whatever small steps I can and it will take me in the direction I want to go.
Finally, when I catch myself falling into self pity, it’s good to remember that God uses the fires and trials of my life to refine me according to His good purpose. And He promises that the end of the story is a good one.
“In fact, I’m quite certain that before God can ever bless a woman — and use her to impact many — He uses the hammer, the file, and the furnace to do a holy work.” — Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss, Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska
How do you find balance while living with chronic illness?