As some of you may know, I have been struggling with a mystery health issue over the past few years post eating disorder recovery. From multiple food intolerances, gut issues, nausea and crazy fatigue, my body and mind were all over the place, and I couldn’t figure out the root cause.
It was so frustrating not having an answer as to why I wasn’t feeling well. I often felt like people thought I was a hypochondriac. I went on dozens of doctors visits, searched Google daily for answers and listened to hours of health and wellness podcasts.
Despite the long and grueling process to get to the root of my issues, I never gave up. I knew my body and myself well enough that something was not right and continued to search for answers, and I still am.
In November 2016, my naturopath sent me to take another blood test, which I honestly didn’t think much about because of the high number of tests I already had taken.
To my surprise, on my next office visit, he handed me a sheet of paper with my test results and said, “We found it.”
WHAT?! I thought. This couldn’t be real…
“No wonder you feel so awful. You have a disease living inside of you. You have Lyme disease,” he said.
I stared at him blankly. Lyme disease?! I knew of Lyme disease and that it frequently came from tick bites, but that was the extent of my knowledge about the disease.
Yes, ticks are gross, and I’m assuming that’s how I got the disease, but I honestly was happy to have Lyme disease. Happy to have a cause of my health issues.
Lyme disease can manifest itself in so many different ways in people’s bodies. Symptoms often include joint pain, fatigue, nausea, brain fog, headaches, insomnia and gut issues.
I’m treating it through holistic health practices to heal my body from the disease, but still struggle daily with many of the symptoms.
I know how difficult it can be to stay positive when you wake up every day feeling awful.
It makes you question your purpose, God’s plan and your worth.
There are numerous tools I’ve developed throughout the healing process to foster positive thinking. Take a look at…
How to Stay Positive Living with a Chronic Illness
1. Create a joy box
Make a list of the things or thoughts that bring you joy. When you experience something that brings you joy, write it down in a notebook or in the notes section of your phone. Keep a running list of positive quotes, activities, and things that make you happy. Whenever you are feeling down, helpless or lonely, you’ll know exactly where to go to get a boost of joy.
2. Accountability Friends
Be upfront with your friends and family about your state of mind. While they understand you aren’t feeling well, they don’t always understand how it can affect your mental health. Pick a friend or family member and ask them to keep you in mind. Say something like, “Hey I haven’t been feeling well. Could you check in on me every once in awhile? Knowing that you are there for me will help me to stay positive.”
Your friends and family want to support you, but don’t always know how. Be direct in asking for what support will be helpful to you!
3. Create a Positivity Playlist
Music has such a positive influence on my mental health. It keeps me calm and makes me feel not alone. Make Spotify playlists with songs that exclusively make you feel amazing. Even if you don’t actually feel amazing, hearing the songs and remembering the feeling they often give you will have a positive effect on your mind and body. 🙂
4. Connect with People Daily
During the days I felt most sick, I wanted to be alone. I didn’t have the energy to exhaust on entertaining anyone or pleasing anyone. Me and my health were my number one priority (and it still is). However, too much time spent alone would make me get caught up in my head. I’d over analyze my health and spend excessive time researching new healing methods. Random phone calls to friends across the country kept me going and always made me feel less lonely. Ensure that you talk to one person outside of your roommates and coworkers daily!
5. Connect with People via the Internet
I love having the comfort of loved ones to talk about my health. However, it can be frustrating feeling like they never understand what I am going through. They can offer words of encouragement, but I sometimes still felt isolated and that no one really understands me. I feel much less alone by listening to podcasts from health and wellness experts who have experienced the same issues as me and who are also going through the healing process. Hearing their struggles makes me realize that I am not alone, and they inspire me to try new healing techniques. My favorite podcasts to learn about healing are the Nourished Podcast and the Paleo Women Podcast.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to people on the internet with similar struggles. In the midst of my gut issues, I discovered Michelle of Unbound Wellness and immediately binge read all of her content. Michelle and I met via Skype and it was so nice to have someone listen to me and understand me. I even wrote this post for her blog here.
Another way to connect with people and feel less alone through the internet is through support groups! I actually just joined a Gut Healing Facebook Support Group that Michelle leads up. When I see people sharing pictures of their bone broth and asking questions about various healing supplements, I’m reminded that I’m not alone in the fight for health through natural methods 🙂
6. Get Outside and Walk
My health struggles were worst during the summer months, which seems like the worst time to feel sick. I never wanted to go outside because the heat exhausted me and made me feel even worse, but my body and mind needed the vitamin D. I felt best when I got outside for about a half hour at a time during the coolest hours. I went on light walks during the early AM and evenings and listened to podcasts. Don’t push yourself to exhaustion, but put on some sunglasses and go for gentle walks.
Walking does wonders.
7. Stay Faithful and Get Close to God
No ONE knows and understands exactly what you are going through besides God. He has a plan and a purpose for your life and while it may not make sense, living with this chronic illness is a part of yours. Remember that he loves you more than you can imagine and stay faithful. Pray often, connect with people of faith and know that he is for you, not against you.
God heals. If he can bring you to it, he can bring you through it.
What ways do you stay positive living with health issues and chronic illnesses?
I challenge you to choose one new way to stay positive throughout your health struggles. Write it down and use it as a tool to stay positive in difficult times. Never give up on healing your body!
XO – Morgan, Mint+Mo
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