Source: Flickr by Sharon Brogan

I don’t profess to be an expert

I just want to share what has worked for me.

It is an ongoing process, which I have to work on every day.

Chronic illness is debilitating- but how one feels, how much pain one is in, and how much energy sufferers have, can very much vary from one day to the next

Chronic illness is not going to go away, and I had to learn to live with it. Because I really didn’t want to fall into a pit of despair.

Chronic illness has been creeping up on me, for the last 4 years. Initially, it was getting worse, but now I think it’s plateaued. Although, I suspect it might worsen when I get older.

I have arthritis, in my spine and in my left hand. I also have a torn ligament in my left shoulder. My pain seems worse over an evening- but doing too much physically, can also bring on a pain flare-up.

Pain affects my energy levels too. If I attempt to do more one day, then I pay for it the next day and sometimes for a few days afterward.

It is funny because I always thought Arthritis was something elderly people had. Yet I was in my 40s when I noticed I had something wrong.

I am not going to lie- I do get bad days.

When I first started having trouble with my mobility, I did really struggle to get my head around what was happening to me. I had plans and this illness was going to wreck them. I shed many a tear before I decided to start listening to my body.

This is how I learned to live with chronic illness

My brain can often tell me, that I am capable of doing anything I want to. But I know that I really can’t and shouldn’t overdo things.

I have to pace myself.

However, life doesn’t always allow for such a slower pace. Especially when one has a child, a husband, and sick relatives. I had to learn the art of trading off. If I want to do more, then I need to rest beforehand, as well as after a busy day/ couple of days. Because I do want to be able to do some normal things, like visiting a book festival or walking around shops from time to time.

I still had to find a way to deal with the pain.

I have never been a great lover of strong pain medication. Therefore, I needed to find a natural way to deal with pain. Then it dawned on me, that when I was busy finishing off my degree, I hadn’t noticed the pain as much.

I realised that this was my solution for coping with chronic illness.

A natural pain relief, for me, is to keep myself mentally occupied. I love writing, especially writing poetry. I fill my time with writing articles, blogs, and poetry. I also love being creative and have found an amazing craft group at my local library.

My pain gets pushed back, and I only notice it when I have nothing to do.

Now I don’t know if this method is going to work forever, but it works for the time being. I have a master’s degree to start in the autumn and know that will keep me plenty busy.

In the meantime, I shall keep writing and I may see if I can get a publisher interested in my poetry. I shall also keep up with the crafting too.

Chronic illness is not nice. It can be difficult to come to terms with, and it can be hard to learn to live with it. However, I no longer feel like my life is ruined. I just found a new purpose, and new hope for the future; and who knows, it might turn out better than those old plans I once had.

My advice to anyone who finds themselves developing chronic illness is to do what brings you joy. Because if you look after your mental health, then you can learn to live with your chronic illness.

Published by Karen Burns

A 50-year-old mother of 3. Graduated from Warwick University in 2021 (with a degree in Social Studies). I have chronic illness, which affects my mobility. However, I love writing and I am a prolific writer of poetry as well.

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