As many of you know, I struggle with more than a handful of illnesses and I'm still waiting for more diagnoses. I have to carry around a medical binder just to remember all of them as well as the rest of my medical information.
I have been diagnosed with: PTSD, anxiety, depression, hypothyroidism, hashimoto's thyroiditis, astigmatism, lupus, CREST, fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, pulmonary hypertension, chronic sinusitis due to a deviated septum, and chronic tonsillitis. We've also found nodules in my lungs, but it is too early to test them.
Each one of these illnesses effect my usual daily routine. Before any of my diagnoses, I unknowingly took a lot for granted. I never thought there would be a day that I wouldn't be able to do everything on my own. I mentioned some of my struggles in my post, "Chronic Illnesses #WhatYouDontSee."
It can be incredibly difficult to adjust to new limitations. I, for one, still haven't mastered it. Each day it feels like there is something new that I can't do anymore, even if I was able to do it the day before. Due to these crazy changes and life-altering limitations, I've learned that I need to remember to celebrate the little accomplishments.
Self-care is just as important as breathing. If we aren't able to take care of ourselves, how are we ever going to be able to take care of anyone else? This still applies even if you haven't received a diagnosis for a chronic illness. Each of us needs to learn to not only accept ourselves, but to care for ourselves too. It's especially important to remember each daily little accomplishment as well.
I actually keep a journal to jot down the things that I want to celebrate. I'm a crazy list maker so I've got to-do lists all over the place! I constantly scribble tasks down, scratch things out, and rewrite them. They normally start out as tasks I'd like to accomplish in one day, but they usually end up spanning a week or more. It can be difficult to finish tasks when you can't guarantee how you'll feel at certain times. So as soon as I feel well enough to accomplish something, I make sure to write it down in my journal.
Some tasks might sound ridiculously simple, but you'd be surprised. Something as small as putting deodorant on, can actually make me very lightheaded and I begin to see spots. I'm sure there's a technical term for it, but I have no idea what it is.
The best way that I have ever been able to describe how hard it is to accomplish doing daily tasks, is using Christine Miserandino's "Spoon theory." You can click on the link for the full story, or get the idea from this awesome infographic!
When I found the spoon theory, I couldn't help but cry. I realized that there were other people struggling with the same things that I was and I wasn't alone. I've joined a community that is so incredibly supportive during the challenges that come with chronic illnesses. I know that I can come to them about anything and they'll be right there to lend a helping hand or a listening ear.
To help better understand what some of us go through, I've included an entry in my daily little accomplishments journal:
- Got out of bed
- Remembered to take all medications
- Got dressed
- Remembered to eat and finish three meals
- Wrote a blog post
- Went on an errand
- Completed my stretches
I know these aren't huge tasks, but they are huge for me! There are some days that I'm not able to leave the couch. I avoid getting up for water, food, or the bathroom because I'm not sure I'll make it to or from. There are lots of instances that I won't eat as much as I should, or I forget to take my medication. You would think that these things would be easy, but they can prove to be incredibly difficult. Nevertheless, I am still happy for each and every daily little accomplishment. I'm proud that I'm able to still do some things independently and I'm trying to accept that sometimes I need to ask for help.
My illnesses may be invisible, but my struggles aren't. I'm so glad that I am able to share my experiences through my blog and bring knowledge to those that don't quite understand the spoonie community. I wish that I could shout it from a mountain top and pass it along to everyone in the world, but I don't exactly have that reach just yet. That's why I'm glad that there are other organizations trying to do the same. One that I've connected with recently, through the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network, is the Self-Care Movement.
I hadn't known about the Self-Care Movement until recently, but I'm so glad that I found them. Similar to me, they are trying to help more people learn and understand our community a little bit better. In fact, their mission is to transform perspectives about chronic illness, and transform the way we manage it, to celebrate the greatness in ordinary accomplishments that patients face everyday!
I would love for you to share this post to help educate the world a little bit more about spoonies!