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Ten ways I prevent CFS from stealing my mental health

Saturday 30 January 2010

EmpowHerEmpowHer's Jody Smith has an article about strategies she employs to help cope with CFS:

Ten Ways I Prevent Chronic Fatigue Syndrome From Stealing My Mental Health

When your body betrays you with a long-term disabling illness like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, it's important to guard your mental health. Some days it's all you have.

Here are ten strategies that have helped me shore up my mental health with hope, over the course of my marathon with CFS.

1. When walking from my bedroom to the kitchen leaves me exhausted and panting for breath ...

I take time to rest as soon as I can. I sit down or lie down, and wait for a little homeostasis to come.

And while I am resting, I picture myself striding with confidence, strength and balance out of CFS and into a healthy future.

2. When trying to connect Thought A to Thought B leaves me floundering in a CFS fog ...

I take the hint that my brain isn't equal to the task at hand and yield to it. If it's time to eat something and refuel the mental faculties that way, I grab some protein. I get away from too much stimuli, sights, sounds, too much activity around me.

I tell myself it's alright to fall back and regroup later. And I await the day when the elevator once again goes all the way to the top floor.

3. When neurological symptoms make me feel like I am vibrating and sparking ...

I listen to my body's message that it's weak and worn out, and rest as much as I can. And while I am doing this, I picture the healthy, full life that is still my expectation for the future.

4. When vertigo keeps me plastered to the back of my chair ...

I close my eyes and surrender to the need to rest and be still. But I will also try to picture myself whole and free. And I focus on my expectation that this wholeness will be my future, and replace my present reality.

5. When I am sitting looking out my bedroom window, hemmed in by the isolation that is the silent partner of CFS ...

I think of my family, my friends and CFS support network online. I remind myself that I'm not really alone. Friends are just a click away. If I'm too tired to click, I take comfort in the knowledge that they will still be there for me when I am up to it.

6. When I am tempted to give in to the despair that nips at the heels of a chronic illness ...

I rise up inside with hope and declare that I am a force to be reckoned with.

7. When I look at the impossible logistics of my life ...

when I grapple with the day to day responsibilities, the question mark of how to get back into my community again, and am stymied by it all ...

I put aside the question of How, and simply, stubbornly demand that It Will.

8. When I look at the past ten years with CFS and feel afraid that the next ten will be the same or worse ...

I remind myself that the chemicals released in my body from despair will tear me down, while the chemicals released when I dare to hope and think of good things help build me up. And I do my best to take the high road in my thoughts, at least for awhile.

9. When I am overcome with grief ...

... I weep.

10. When I have been whipped for the day -- or week, or month -- and been unable to see myself the victor after all ...

I forgive myself for losing heart, and know that I will find it again. CFS is a tough unrelenting adversary and there is no shame in having lost many battles. The goal is to regather my courage and persevere.

And ... sooner or later ... I do. So up I get once more for another round, with the determined expectation that ultimately, I will win.

The full article can be found here.



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