Here are five ways to battle the invisible illness blues.
You know that blah feeling that creeps up over you after your thoughts have been pretty down in light of all of the physical issues you are battling?
It is what I refer to as the iib’s or invisible illness blues.
Anyone who has lived with an invisible illness long enough has, or eventually will, catch a case of the iib’s. So what do we do when a bad case of the iib’s comes our way? Try these five tips.
1. Vitamin D
As autoimmune messes, if there was one supplement that could change your life, it would probably be Vitamin D. I really could spend an entire post telling you all of the reasons you should be taking this supplement if you have an autoimmune disease, chronic illness, or take any medicine regularly. I’ll just throw out a few points for now.
Vitamin D deficiency is biologically linked with an increased autoimmune response and many chronic illness disorders.
Not having enough of this powerful little vitamin wrecks all kinds of havoc on the body and considering that a good many of invisible illnesses include a sensitivity to the sun means we are deficient. The modern diet is simply, not typically good enough to meet the demand our body has for it.
In addition to these deficiencies in acquiring the ingredients for our bodies to make it, many medicines common to the chronic illness community actually, deplete our already sagging levels.
Consider that, steroids, antacids, anti-clotting drugs, water pills, and cholesterol-lowering drugs among others, all reduce vitamin D levels and you see why it is a major problem.
Vitamin D plays a huge role in battling the blues. In fact, low vitamin D levels are linked to depression.
There is a pretty good chance that if you are low in vitamin D due to your invisible illness it may be a major contributor to your iib’s.
Take my personal word on this one. I listed it first because I have seen a direct link between my decrease of self-discipline in taking my vitamin D and the increase of my invisible illness blues. It is now one of the first questions I ask myself when the iib’s try to take over, have I been taking my vitamin D?
2. Refocus your perspective.
It is easy for us to look at the downgrade of our lives due to invisible illness and get sad. We are often caught losing in the middle of a massive battle to live normal day to day with our illness.
We can get stuck focusing on the things that we have lost or can’t do because of our invisible illness.
This means that we start to change our perspective into seeing all of our weaknesses, failures, or losses. Instead, refocus your perspective and look at how far you have come.
There are ways that you manage your illness better today than when you were first diagnosed. There are goals that you are closer to today than yesterday.
Don’t get stuck looking at how far down the road you still need to go, celebrate how far you have come!
You should not compare who you are as a chronically ill person with who you were before you became sick. It’s just not fair to yourself. Instead, be grateful for your life pre-illness but don’t make that the standard you feel you need to live up to today. Accept and compare yourself to your new best and you will have a better perspective on yourself.
3. Schedule time to do something you enjoy on a consistent basis.
I know this can be hard when just doing the things it takes to survive seems to drain all of the energy out of you. Showering, eating, taking meds, doctor visits, and finding a position that doesn’t hurt can sometimes take everything within us to accomplish.
Give yourself something to look forward to.
Even if the only thing you can muster the energy or charisma to do is to give yourself permission to binge watch episodes of the Gilmore Girls on Netflix for a few hours while drinking your favorite special tea blend find something that makes you feel good, and make a date and do it.
Whatever soothes your soul should be on your calendar as a regular appointment.
- Paint a picture
- Visit with a friend
- Splurge on that fancy cup of coffee
- Listen to music
- Take that long hot bath
- Start a new book
- Browse through a thrift store
- Call an old friend to catch up
- Do whatever it is that feeds you deep down in your soul
View these appointments as seriously as those impossible to get appointments with your specialist. Don’t you dare cancel on something so important because feeling good mentally is also important to your health.
We all need someplace to vent out the frustration of having an invisible illness because when we hold them inside they can turn into sadness.
You know how all of the frustrations that are unique to invisible illnesses can build up, the way the rude person at the grocery store judged you for parking in a handicapped spot when you look fine, or when we can’t speak in intelligent sentences because of brain fog, or no one seems to get what you’re going through?
I’ve been there too and it is initially maddening and then depressing.
As much as your friends and family love you, you don’t want to become someone who incessantly spews bitterness and negativity all over them. Yet, it is not healthy to hold on to it. In the words of Elsa, “Let it go.”
Write it down. Vent every single frustration and sadness in its rawest and strongest essence right into your journal.
Journaling is a safe and helpful way to work through the iibs.
Studies have shown that journaling is an effective way to help deal with traumatic experiences by softening the long-term impact it has. Verbally processing helps the writer clarify their thoughts and feelings in order to release emotions and reach conclusions, as well as reduce stress. So give it a try. There is no wrong way to journal, just let it go.
5. Take care of yourself.
One of the first things that I do when I get the iibs is to start to feel very unmotivated. I feel apathetic about doing the things I need to help me feel good about myself.
For example, I start going to for days on end wearing my hair in a messy bun because I didn’t care enough to brush it and living in oversized sweatshirts I generally have stolen from Mr. Autoimmune Mess. While there is nothing wrong with messy buns and sweatshirts (yay, comfort!), there is something wrong with doing it for days because you are not interested in taking care of yourself.
While the very last thing an unmotivated person would ever want to do is exercise and eat right, it is also the very first thing they need.
Make a point to spend time taking care of yourself when you are down. It reinforces the idea that you are important and worthy.
Also, exercise is the surge of endorphins you need to counteract those invisible illness blues. And let’s face it, we all feel better when we are eating nourishing food.
Think you can’t or it’s too hard to exercise with an invisible illness? Then you need to check out my post on why giving up on exercise is not an option with a chronic illness or why you should be doing tai chi.
If your invisible illness blues seem to be more serious than a case of the blah’s or lasts a long time, talk to your doctor or find a counselor or therapist that can help. Depression is a serious and normal complication of invisible illness. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help!