Tag Archives: maintaining relationships

Separating me from M.E. (and other chronic illnesses)

05 Jul 16
Megan
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Imagine waking every day and being unsure about what you’ll be able to achieve that day. You may wake up to pain levels so high that even rolling over in bed is too painful, or maybe your energy is so low that you can’t even get your eyes to open properly…

Maybe, like me, you don’t need to imagine this at all. Maybe you live with a chronic illness that makes your life unpredictable and very VERY frustrating.

When you have a chronic illness it can be quite easy to be hard on yourself for all the things you struggle to do, or simply can not do, on a daily basis. These things can be as simple as taking a shower or brushing your teeth. Things that others may take for granted.

One tool that I’ve learnt to have in place to help me and my extended family and friends cope better with my multiple chronic illnesses is to find a way to separate myself from the illness. When I’m unable to do something, I (usually) remember that I shouldn’t be angry or frustrated at myself. It’s the illness and it’s symptoms that I should be angry and frustrated at.

A great way I’ve found to separate me from my conditions, is to personify my illnesses (or at least the main symptoms I face). The characters I’ve created are Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang. By personifying my symptoms in this way I can say things like “it’s Foggy Frog that is making it difficult to make a coherent sentence today” or “Stabbing Spider that has taken my breath away.”

Having this separation between myself and my illness helps me keep a positive and open attitude towards my life. It gives me room to focus on the things I can do or the things around me that I can be grateful for.  I can focus on all the things I am; I aim to live as simply, sustainably and meaningfully as possible. I am passionate about working with others. I am a loving wife and caring friend. I am an advocate and an educator. I am not just my illness!

The separation also helps with my relationship with my husband. When he’s frustrated at what I can’t do, we can both be angry and frustrated at the illness and I don’t feel the need to take things too personally. We are able to talk openly about how we feel and, as long as we can maintain the separation between me and my symptoms, the anger should be aimed at the illness and not me.

The idea of separating yourself from your illness is generally discussed from the point of view of mental illness such as OCD, Schizophrenia, Bipolar or Depression, but I’ve found it useful living with physical conditions such as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Fibromyalgia and I’m sure it can be applied to many other conditions.

Chronic illness makes life difficult at the best of times. Having to deal with both constant and unpredictable symptoms can take a major toll on your self esteem and general mental health. However, by separating ourselves from our illnesses we can nurture a healthier relationship with our bodies, our lives, and our families that will allow us to remember who we actually are. We are not our illnesses.

What techniques do you have in place to separate yourself from your illness or to otherwise maintain your mental health?


Wisdom Wednesday: Benefits of spending time with friends

26 Feb 14
Megan
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Hi friends and family (and other readers).

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted, I’ve been rather unwell over the last week. My body finally seems to be as happy as it seems to be with me again lately (no upset tummy anymore)…

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On the weekend two of our friends got married and although I wasn’t feeling the best I had a wonderful time.

It seems that since being so ill the main time I’ve managed to see the majority of our friends has been when we were at someone’s wedding. This is something I’m going to focus on fixing over the next month or so.

Why?

Because spending time with friends is important for both my mental and physical health.

When I manage to spend time with my friends I feel so much better about myself. Even if I’m in a lot of pain and having a lot of difficulty focusing it’s nice to know that I’m still me here.

I may not participate in as many conversations as I used to (not that I actually participated that much anyway, I’ve always preferred to listen to what’s going on around me), and I may struggle to focus occasionally, but it’s nice to know I can still be there for my friends.

So I am going to begin to make more of an effort to spend time with my friends. I know it’s not going to be easy because I can’t do late nights and they all work during the week (and sometimes the weekend as well) but I’m going to try and organise more regular afternoon teas and lunches and any other day time activities I can come up with that I’m able to participate in.

If you’re one of my friends look out for more invites from me. The invite for the Foggy Frog campaign launch this Sunday is just the beginning. 🙂

The Foggy Frog Campaign Launch is this Sunday at 2 pm CST (Adelaide). If you’re in Adelaide, and you’d like to join us in person, we’ll be having afternoon tea at our house (just let me know you’re coming). If you’re not in Adelaide, you can still participate because we’ll have a conversation going on through Twitter (#FoggyFrog) and on our Facebook page.

Please join us on the day to learn more about how you can participate in the campaign.

With just 4 days left until the launch, please join our Thunderclap to help us launch with a bang!

Just click on the link below and choose “Support with Facebook” or “Support with Twitter”.

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/9038-making-the-invisible-visible

Thank you for your support and to all of you who already have an even bigger thank you for helping spread the word further!

How do you maintain relationships with your friends?