Coping with the Tough Stuff Too

5 Suggestions to help you navigate the difficult times.

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.

 Arnold Schwarzenegger

You know what? Even the luckiest of us has had to deal with some serious bumps in the road, and if you haven’t yet, you will. That’s just the way life works. I didn’t make the rules – just saying.

Now it may not be your typical ‘take-your-black-suit-out-of-the-mothballs’ kind of stuff, not life-threatening or anything, but a major pothole none-the-less.

Take migraines for instance. Some people still think, migraine – no big deal; stop being a wuss, suck it up, swallow two Advil and get back to business as usual.

In case you, my reader, are a bit backward when it comes to “migrainology” (yes, I just made that word up . . . but what the heck, I live in America!), a migraine is not just a bad headache. It’s a neurological disease – changes your brain, the way it works and everything; one of the top 10 disabling diseases and can lead to stroke and coma.

Now that is tough sh*t right there! I won’t even want to think of dealing with that, yet millions deal with it daily.

I guess what I am saying is that other people’s challenges often seem much more arduous than your own but the thing is, it’s all relative. There’s no comparison. Don’t think for one minute that because I have AIH and you just have a URI, you have no right to be heard.

The ABC’s of Medical Conditions

So, whether it is PMS or CFS, EDS or HIV, SAD or TTH (ABC, XYZ or any of the myriad combinations of letters, if it significantly affects your quality of life; if it sometimes drives you to the brink of insanity/despair – it’s tough stuff. How do you cope?

Here are 5 strategies that have been working for me.

FACTS

Find out the facts, everything you can – all the “WHAT’s”: what you need to know; what to expect; what were the experiences of others; what are some of the things you can do that could help . . .  Punch in a Google search, I guarantee you’ll find something about anything – online communities and support groups, personal blogs (knowing that there are others like you is often reassuring), reliable information from qualified professionals.

Blot out myths and stigmas. You’ll feel better without all the false, scary stuff haunting your outlook. With greater knowledge comes a sense of empowerment and the ability to adapt to your situation.

 

ACCEPT

Accept your situation for what it is – neither a sign of weakness nor a measure of your worth – simply a straight-up fact. Ostomy bag, insulin pump, oxygen compressor, prosthetic breast . . . whatever, is nothing more than a life enhancing medical appliance.

So you wade through the initial feelings of embarrassment, self-blame, guilt, anger, depression; acknowledge your limitations and hoist self-care to a priority position at the top of your list. Don’t resign, simply accept and work with what you got.

 

INDWELL

Get on with living your life. You’ll probably need a little time to adjust but whatever you do, don’t let your situation become the center of your world. Set realistic short-term goals as stepping stones to your ultimate goal – a full and satisfying life.

 

TALK

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should broadcast your situation to every Tom, Dick and Harry but when you involve those around you – positive, caring family and friends – it strengthens your support network. I’ve found that generally, people can be quite understanding. The more people who know, the more support you’ll have, the lighter the burden of secrecy.

Secrets are heavy. Feelings of isolation are real. You need a strong support network. Talk about what is happening to you. There, I’ve made my case.

 

HUMOR

Lighten up! A little sense of humor can go a long way in coping with difficult situations. By changing your perspective, humor can combat fear and anxiety. Learn to laugh at life.

Facts; Accept; Indwell; Talk; Humor

The bottom line – have F.A.I.T.H.

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