Yesterday my husband and I went to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. This center provides rescue and rehabilitation of injured raptors including falcons, eagles and owls (my favorite). We saw many with broken wings and other bones and a couple with vision impairments. Most were in cages but some were tethered to a perch so they could not fly away from the protection of the facility. Not being able to survive on their own, they were being held in captivity.
This reminds me of how I feel at times, living with multiple chronic illnesses. I feel I am caged by my illnesses because I cannot function the way a normal person’s body functions. The limits on the food I can eat due to Diabetes and the amount of energy I can expend in one day due to Psoriatic Arthritis and Fibromyalgia keep me confined. I am not free to do as I please because my body cannot function on its own. I have to manually regulate many of my body functions with medication, diet and managing movement.
Being ill my entire life, I have learned how to relieve some of the feelings of restriction:
- Acknowledgement: I had to acknowledge my emotional, physical and mental state. I had to recognize my feelings of grief and sadness about being sick. Once one grieves the loss of being ill, it becomes more real. Once the grief was resolved I was in a better mental state to deal with the physical issues.
- Identify what needs to be changed: I had to accept the way I was functioning needed to change in order for me to manage my illnesses more effectively. For example, I can no longer do a long list of chores in one day. I now have to break up my activity in short segments. In other words, I had to examine what aspects of my life were being impacted by my illnesses and make changes.
- Make one change at a time: I gradually worked on each aspect of myself taking one step at a time. Once I dealt with my emotional state, it helped other aspects of my life. Then I was able to work on making changes to my daily activities which help my overall health and energy levels.
- Engage in a new adventure: Learn something new, join a social group, volunteer in the community. Engaging more with others and helping the community create a sense of purpose which generates hope for the future.
- Reward: As changes are being accomplished, give yourself a reward! It can be anything, even a small moment of self-care. For me that means a manicure and pedicure!
- Share your story: Share what you are going through with others. You never know what you can learn from someone else or what they can learn from you!