How to Make Mindfulness Practical When You’re Chronically Ill

How to Make Mindfulness Practical When You’re Chronically Ill

Talk of mindfulness is everywhere. You have no doubt heard people recommending mindfulness as a method of coping with all sorts of health issues. While it’s no ‘quick fix’ or ‘miracle cure’, mindfulness truly can be extremely beneficial for those of us with chronic illness, and it has proven results!

The benefits of mindfulness for chronic illness

Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment, which promotes a sense of calm and relaxation. This alone can provide a feeling of comfort and relief when we’re going through a lot in our lives. This 2019 study defines the practice of mindfulness as: “intentionally observing the body and mind nonreactively while embracing the individual experience and accepting things as they are.”

When you live with chronic illness, you are often in a prolonged state of ‘fight or flight’, which means that your stress response is overworked. Your body and mind are not designed to handle this prolonged stress, which can understandably take its toll. Stress can contribute to chronic pain and other chronic symptoms. Thankfully mindfulness can markedly reduce stress levels, easing chronic symptoms and reducing the negative effects that come with being in a state of stress for so long.

It’s not only stress that mindfulness can help with: regular mindfulness practices can help us to gain greater control over our emotions and enable us to regulate them more effectively. This creates a more stable mood and an enhanced sense of wellbeing. This increased emotional regulation can even help with mental illness (such as anxiety and depression) which so often accompanies chronic illness.

The benefits of mindfulness for chronic illness

Often the experience of living with chronic illness can create a sense of fear of doing something that may worsen your symptoms (which is completely understandable). This fear can lead to fear-fuelled avoidance, meaning we avoid certain activities in the hope we can avoid a ‘flare’. Unfortunately, this fear-fuelled avoidance can actually worsen symptoms over time. Mindfulness can help us to overcome those fears and deal with them in a calmer, more constructive way. 

When you live with chronic illness, it can be incredibly hard to sleep. Often even when we do sleep, it’s non-restorative and restless, meaning we don’t feel much of the benefit. Mindfulness can help with more restful, regular sleep. Mindfulness can even help us to be more self-compassionate and build our confidence, as well as helping us to feel more motivated to self-manage our chronic illness.These are only a few of the benefits of mindfulness for chronic illness!

Making mindfulness practical:

Now that you know just how useful mindfulness can be, you might be wondering how to get started. It can be tough to know how to engage in mindfulness in a practical, realistic way. Let’s go through some tips to help you introduce mindfulness into your day to day life.

Figure out what type of mindfulness works for you. There are so many different types of mindfulness such as meditations, visualization and guided imagery, mindful movement, body scan meditations, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and more! This variety is great because it means that if you try a style of mindfulness and discover it’s not for you, it doesn’t mean mindfulness can’t work for you! Take your time to do some research and experiment until you find what feels best for you. 

Figure out what type of mindfulness works for you.

Start off with 5 minutes at a time. You don’t have to dedicate lots of time to mindfulness to feel the benefits, especially not when you’re just starting out. Starting out with 5 or 10 minutes at a time can be a sustainable way to introduce mindfulness. You don’t even have to do this every single day to gain the benefits (although if you can this would be fantastic)! 2 or 3 times a week would be a great way to start out. Being as consistent as possible is key. You don’t need any special equipment to get started. Find 5 minutes in a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed or distracted, and you’re ready to go. 

Don’t worry about sitting in a specific position. You don’t have to sit with your legs crossed in an upright position for mindfulness to work. Don’t worry if that simply doesn’t work for you. There’s no magic pose that you have do to gain the benefits of mindfulness. Sit or lie down in any position that is comfortable for you. 

If you feel pain or other symptoms, don’t overthink it. Let’s face it, it’s likely that while you’re sitting and trying to quiet your mind, you might experience pain or other symptoms of your chronic illness. That’s ok. Don’t worry! Mindfulness is about being present in the moment and engaging your senses. If you are experiencing a symptom, feel what you’re feeling as part of the present moment. Try not to overthink it or worry about it. That sounds easier said than done, but with practice it can get easier. Of course that might not always be possible. If you’re having a flare or a severe symptom, you might need to stop your mindfulness practice for the time being. That’s totally valid too! You can always try again later. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed or that you can’t practice mindfulness. 

Find guided mindfulness resources. You don’t have to sit and meditate alone. There are plenty of guided mindfulness sessions online you can access (and many for free!) which will guide you through a meditation step by step. Some people find guided audio or video mindfulness sessions really helpful because it gives them a voice to focus on and clear, relaxing guidance to follow. 

Find guided mindfulness resources to help you be mindful.

Consider mindfulness courses and mindfulness therapy. There are mindfulness courses you can engage in which can help guide you through learning mindfulness skills. You may be able to find some in your local area which you could attend in person, or you could find an online course or app. Mindfulness is often integrated into other types of therapy to treat chronic illness and mental health issues. You could ask your doctor, specialist or therapist if this is something you could involve in your sessions. Alternatively, you could seek a specific mindfulness therapist. If you do so, ensure they are properly qualified

Utilize mindfulness in bed to help you sleep. If you struggle to sleep, you could practice mindfulness a little while before you go to bed at night to get you in a relaxed mood. Another great way to utilize mindfulness to help you sleep is to listen to a guided mindfulness session in bed to help you drift off. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is really great for this purpose because it takes you through relaxing each area of the muscles in your body. This can ease muscle pain as well as encourage relaxation. 

Consider trying mindful movement. For some people, sitting or lying still and trying to relax simply doesn’t work. This is where mindful movement can come into its own. Mindful movement typically involves slow flowing movements. While you’re doing these movements you pay attention to your breathing, to how your body feels and to what is happening in that moment. Yoga and tai chi are types of mindful movement. You can even make other exercises mindful, such as going for a mindful walk. When you’re walking, you might pay attention to how your feet feel as they are hitting the ground. You may notice what sounds you can hear and what you can see around you for example. You’re focusing on exactly what is happening in that moment on your walk, not on the past or the future. Mindful movement brings all of the same benefits of mindfulness, as well as incorporating the benefits of exercise and activity for those with chronic pain. It’s all about what works for you!

Make daily tasks mindful. We don’t always have the time or energy required to dedicate to setting aside specific time for mindfulness each day. However, as you learn the skills of mindfulness, you can make daily tasks mindful that you would be doing anyway. As we learn to pay attention to what is happening in the moment, (if our mind wanders we simply bring our attention back to the present) we are being mindful. Over time this can become a positive habit, and will feel less like a conscious effort. This study explains that, “repetitive attempts to increase state mindfulness leads to an incremental escalation of the general tendency to be mindful in a more automatic manner.”

An example of doing daily tasks mindfully could be eating a meal mindfully. Take your time to focus on how your food smells and looks before you eat it. As you taste it, take the time to really take notice of the flavours, the movement of your mouth and tongue, and the feeling of enjoyment you may experience. You could make taking a shower mindful. Pay attention to how the water feels on your skin. Take notice of the smells of your shower gel or soap. Think about what colours you can see (maybe the bottles in your shower or your sponges are a certain colour). 

Make daily tasks mindful.

Be kind to and encourage yourself. If things don’t go to plan, for example if you can’t quiet your mind or you miss a week of your mindfulness practice, don’t be too hard on yourself! It doesn’t have to be perfect. Remember you’re learning a skill and that takes time. Encourage yourself and be kind to yourself. If you try all sorts of different mindfulness techniques and are just finding that it’s not for you, that’s completely valid too. There are plenty of other chronic illness management options that you can explore. It doesn’t mean you can’t try mindfulness again later down the line if you want to, so don’t worry!

Mindfulness is about you!

Fundamentally, mindfulness is about what works for you. If you can find ways to integrate mindfulness into your life, it can be well worth the effort and have wonderful benefits. Remember that there’s no specific ‘right way’ to practice mindfulness. It’s all about what works for you and your life.

About the Author:

Ann-Marie D’Arcy-Sharpe is 33 years old and works as a freelance writer and blogger. She lives with bipolar disorder, fibromyalgia and arthritis. She writes for Pathways Pain Relief, a chronic pain relief app and blog. The app is created by pain patients and backed by the latest pain science. The app uses mind body therapies to help pain patients achieve natural, long lasting pain relief.

How Watching ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ Got Me Through Depression

How Watching 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' Got Me Through Depression

Warning: This article discusses mental illness and thoughts of self-harm.

Like many people, I’ve always enjoyed watching films. Films tell us a story about someone’s life and struggles and shows us how they were able to overcome those obstacles that they had to face. About a year and a half ago, I had gone through a rough patch in life where I didn’t know where to turn to. I was going through college and my first real break up, along with knowing that I was going to have to live with Cerebral palsy for the rest of my life. 

I didn’t know where to turn to as nothing I did seemed to help me cope with the many different emotions that I was facing at the time. Then a friend recommended that I watch ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ which is about a high school freshman named Charlie who’s an aspiring writer who loved journaling about his everyday life but has a difficult time handling depression.

How Watching 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' Got Me Through Life Changes

My connection with the main character:

From the minute I first saw Charlie on my screen I automatically connected with him and what he was going through as someone who was at that point in her life where everything felt very confusing. I had thought that I had everything figured out and I was now adapting to changes at the time that changed my outlook on life.

While watching ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ I felt as if I was Charlie in the movement, and he was speaking to me directly. I related to him as he was going through being the outcast of his fellow classmates because he was the one who was not ordinarily. This is just like myself since I have Cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair as my legs. So, I tend to be the outcast of society.

My connection with the main character of 'Perks of Being a Wallflower'

At times this could all be too much for me to handle. Watching ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ allowed me to be confident in my life and the person that I am, as well as the life story I have to tell. 

How what this movie taught me applies to my life:

‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ reminds me that despite the bad chapters in my book I have to keep writing my life story no matter how bad the chapters are. It reminds me that it’s just one bad chapter, it’s not my whole life story. And just like Charlie overcame his obstacles and challenges of being an outcast with very little confidence, I am reminded that I’m not alone and I will overcome anything that comes my way.

How what 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' taught me applies to my life

Watching ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ also helps me forget about the lack of mobility I have on the left side of my body due to Cerebral palsy, which can lead me to feel suicidal at times and feel trapped within my own mind and body. 

Watching this film takes away any negative thoughts I might have about myself and my abilities and helps me to continue living my life as a disabled woman with Cerebral palsy. I will be forever grateful for ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ and its message. 

Tylia Flores is a 24-year-old born with cerebral palsy. Although her condition has affected her mobility, it has never affected her will and determination to make a difference in the world. Through her many life challenges and obstacles, she discovered her passion for writing. Tylia’s goal in life is to share her stories with the world.

Marie’s Chronic Illness Journey: Finding My “New Normal”

Marie’s Chronic Illness Journey: IBD and Crohn's disease

IBD, Perianal Crohn’s Disease, Abscess, Fistula complications, Sepsis, Crohn’s Arthritis, Pyoderma Gangrenous, DVT, blood clotting disorder, low blood pressure, Tachycardia and an irregular heartbeat with palpitations, Migraines, Body Dysmorphia, Depression, Anxiety, Agoraphobia, PTSD, hair loss, insomnia, self-isolation.

No, you didn’t just read a list of side effects from a newly FDA approved medicine. What you did read are just some of the things I have to battle with and continue to overcome daily. It’s unfortunate, but I can continue on with that list for quite a while. Being diagnosed with a chronic illness at 27 is utterly perplexing, as I am sure it is at any age. You live this life and you have your plans, goals, aspirations, and, at the flip of a switch, that all changes. I was completely blindsided and continue to be with every new diagnosis.

Finding my “new normal”

Once I was diagnosed, I would hear from other IBD patients and medical professionals about the importance of finding your “new normal”; a phrase I found to be so true and necessary, as I myself was discovering what that would mean for me. My struggle came into play when I realized no one around me seemed all that open about the process that preceded this new life I would be creating for myself. With the daily challenges associated with chronic illness, figuring out how this new life looks can feel as if you’re driving at night in a rainstorm, with your headlights off, just praying you’re on the right side of the road.

Finding my "new normal" with IBD and Crohn's Disease

I had never really been exposed to the chronic illness lifestyle. Even though it has now been 2 years, the chronic part is still something I struggle with regularly. It’s easy to forget that this illness is for life. It definitely doesn’t help when the “able” ask you if you’re better yet. Especially, when after every procedure, that thought passes through your own mind, only to disappoint you again because you know that “better” will never be a permanent option.

I was beyond lost at the beginning of my chronic illness journey. I was scared and I felt alone. I was the only one in my world who could speak my language and everyone was staring at me like I was a circus clown. As if the chronic pain wasn’t enough, I was now facing emotional turmoil as friends, who I considered family, began to drop out of my life. I was left to fend for myself the same instant everything I knew changed; with only a few true friends remaining by my side to help navigate the most difficult challenges I’ve ever faced. True colors began to shine in moments of crisis and I was seeing rainbows.

Highly medicated and awkwardly positioned in my hospital bed, I felt as if I was being tested. I can only describe my time in my post-op, shared-room as a character-building experience. I squinted one eye shut to combat the drug-induced, kaleidoscope vision so I could begin to research how to achieve this “new normal”.

Finding support

Finding support with IBD and Crohn's disease

I stumbled across the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and sent them an email. Once discharged from the hospital and successfully escaping the grips of my home nurse, I managed to make it out to a few events. I started meeting people, people like me, only they were more informed and experienced with their place in their chronic illness journey. It was through these gatherings that I became connected with my mentor, who now is my closest and dearest friend.

We began going to support groups together and she got me to see a psychologist who specialized in IBD. I had a connection with my mentor-turned-best-friend that I’ve never experienced before. I wasn’t aware that relationships like that were real. I finally wasn’t alone on my planet where no one could figure out what I was saying. I was the least lonely I had ever been, and we were in our very own world where we finished each other’s sentences, showed up for surgeries, and answered the phone late at night just because the other couldn’t sleep. We support each other in every aspect of our lives and I slowly began to realize the steps needed to be taken to get to my “new normal”.

It was through our relationship and her perpetual support that she encouraged me to stop hiding behind my fears and do what I love. Out of this came The Lemon Blog, my passion project. The Lemon Blog is a place that supports all abilities and provides encouragement, mentorship, community, advice, an ear to listen, or even a shoulder to cry on when needed.

Starting a blog when coping with IBD and Crohn's disease

I cannot stress enough the importance of having a solid support system. Sadly, not everyone has that available to them, which is why The Lemon Blog has become so important to me. Not only have I made amazing connections with these warriors, but we check on each other regularly, we cheer each other on, offer support when needed, words of encouragement when down, and have some pretty good laughs along the way.

People like Meena at The Unchargables help pave the way for the rest of us and I am honored to be writing this for their site. Thank you for asking me to share my story. I encourage everyone to share their own; you never know who it may help. I’d love to see you over at or shoot me a direct message through our Instagram – we’d love to have you be a part of our Spoonie Community and help you to discover you own New Normal.

About the Author:

Marie is a chronic illness warrior who runs The Lemon Blog, which is her passion project. Marie created this blog with the aim of supporting fellow chronic warriors and helping them find their own “new normal”.

My 7 Steps For Coping With a Chronic Condition

My 7 Steps For Coping With a Chronic Condition

Being diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness can be disorienting and disappointing. But as you accept it with time, you will learn to cope with your illness by making changes in your lifestyle. Stress affects everybody, and suffering from long term health conditions may make you vulnerable to the struggles stress can bring. You may appear to be absolutely fine on the outside, but inside, you might be torn apart by the stresses of being constantly dependent on someone for doctor appointments or having to clean up, go outside, run errands, etc. To persevere the spirit to live must be there. No matter what you are suffering from, being aware of the conditions and taking precautions can ease the everyday struggle. The more positively you can handle the struggle, the easier it will be to take care of the challenges.

My 7 ways to cope with a chronic condition:


Often a lot of turmoil lies in mind. Accepting being terminally ill or having to suffer from a lifelong condition such as diabetes or thyroid issues takes time for acceptance. Once you’ve accepted it, it puts your mind at ease and allows you to look for ways to combat the disease while living your life. Take your time but accept your current situation as that is only when the mind will start to look for a solution.

Look for support:

We all need people that support us when we go through a tough time, and when experiencing illness, having a strong support system is half of the journey. Having your friends and family with you during these times can boost up your confidence. Do not worry about the toxic relationships in your life and only focus on people who add positivity to your life. Value the people who love and care about you and make them a part of your inner circle. Social media is also a great place to get support from those experiencing similar conditions to you.

Look for support when coping with a chronic condition

Gain more information about your condition:

When you are suffering from a chronic condition, it is always safer to have a thorough understanding of the disease and its conditions. If you have doubts and questions, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor. You may also research online or look for support groups to gain more knowledge about the condition. Keep track of the symptoms your body exhibits and get to know your body better. Analyze methods that may help to manage symptoms related to your condition and share details with your healthcare provider.

Manage symptoms of depression:

People suffering from chronic illness go through a wide range of emotions. You may feel weary, drained out, and be in a dark place due to the condition and the symptoms you experience. A lot of people miss out on their regular doctor’s appointments and skip medications, which ends up in further aggravating the condition. It is important to be well informed about the symptoms of depression and how to tackle them. Speak to a therapist if necessary.

Take your medications on schedule:

It is often hard to remember to take medication, it’s even harder to remember if you have to take 10 of them. Set a reminder or an alarm on your phone to remind you to take your medicines on time. Remember the names of the medicines you are taking and get a deeper insight into the drugs you are recommended. Speak to your doctor to learn more about each drug and its side effects, why you’re taking them, if you may discontinue them in the future, etc.

Take your medications on schedule if you are coping with a chronic condition

Live in the present:

Suffering from a lifelong disease can make you worry and fear the future, but the best way to live one’s life is to focus on the present. Always follow the rule of ‘Be Here And Now.’ Focus on what you’re doing; if you are eating, be conscious of what you’re eating, what color food you are eating, etc. It keeps the mind focused on the present activity and prevents it from wandering off in unprecedented directions. 

Find something you love to do:

Practicing a hobby is therapy in itself. Whether it’s painting, gardening, or reading a book, find out what you like and do it. Hobbies can bring joy, a feeling of productivity, and a distraction from the suffering of real life.

Coping with a chronic illness can be difficult, but there are methods that can make this easier. Live in the moment and take baby steps every day. Changes don’t happen overnight, but as long as you make progress, you’re doing great.

About the Author:

Henna is a wellness lifestyle writer. She loves sharing her thoughts and personal experiences related to natural remedies, Ayurvedic, yoga and fitness through her writing. She currently writes for How To Cure. She can connect with others experiencing health concerns and help them through their recovery journeys through natural remedies.

Depression: In The Depths Of The Nothingness

Depression: In The Depths Of The Nothingness

Writing may be one of my biggest loves in this life, but it’s also one of my biggest struggles thanks to my health. As a person with chronic illnesses and major mental health struggles, I don’t write as much as I would like to or as much as I used to.

I still find the same release in writing that I always have found but, more often than not, I just can’t bring myself to write. Post-exertional malaise from my ME, and cognitive difficulty from my fibromyalgia makes the activity of writing difficult in itself, but there’s more to it than that for me; a different kind of blockage that can be hard to pin down.

Depression: In The Depths Of The Nothingness

The Blockage

This piece has been doubly difficult for me to write. Not just because of the writing process itself, but because of the subject matter. I chose to write an article for Mental Health Week about depression. And depression makes me lose interest in the things I love. There’s definitely an irony in struggling to write about depression because of depression, isn’t there?

I want my writing to make others feel less alone, but how on earth was I going to approach this topic? When it comes to something as multifaceted as mental health, it can be difficult to know where to even start. My brain quickly got to work on bullying me.

Why would anyone want to read something you wrote anyway?

You have nothing interesting to say. All your work is bland and rubbish, just like you.

I don’t know why you even bother.

There are too many better writers out there. You’ll never be taken seriously.

Your thoughts aren’t valuable enough to be paid attention to.

So here I am, scrambling around inside my foggy brain trying to ignore the bullying thoughts in my head and to figure out whether anything I have to say about depression will even make sense enough to shape into an article.  

Describing The Indescribable?

Up until a few years ago, I thought of depression as an intruder. It would fully catch me off guard, kind of like a huge predator stalking in the shadows and then jumping out in front of me when I least expected it. Some people describe depression as a black dog which won’t leave you alone. As my life has gone on, I’ve come to see it more as some kind of dangerous plant, thriving in the darkness and slowly growing; creeping its way into my life until I’m swamped.

Its roots are deep, and its vines reach further and further into my present consciousness until I can feel them grasping me by the limbs and the throat, pulling me backwards into the dark. Sometimes the vines loosen their grip and retreat, and I can breathe again but, even then, I still know they’re only biding their time. They’re still there, lurking…ready to creep out of the shadow again at some point. And as the years have gone on, each trauma or stress that life has thrown my way has only strengthened the roots in those murky depths of my psyche. 

As well as the stigma, there’s a lot of misconceptions out there about depression. People often think that feeling down for a few days or a couple of weeks is being depressed. It’s not. That’s just feeling blue, which is something that most people experience at some point in their lives. Feeling down occasionally is part of our normal range of human emotion, just like feeling sad is. Feeling sad when something bad happens is not depression. That’s a normal reaction to something bad happening, and will usually dissipate with time. When the low mood persists long-term, that’s when it becomes a problem. 

Doctors and psychologists usually look out for common symptoms when diagnosing depression, such as a loss of interest in things that you normally enjoy, feelings of worthlessness or of despair, feelings of unrealness and even urges to harm yourself in some way. Check out this guide from the charity Mind to find out more about symptoms, causes and potential treatment options. Their website is also full of resources about other mental health disorders and information about where to find help.

The Numbness 

Perhaps my least favourite symptom that comes from being in a depressive episode is what I now call the nothingness. This is something that I have experienced since I was a teenager and still frightens me to this day when it happens. It’s not that I feel sad, or upset or even down, I just feel…nothing. In these times my emotional range seems to just shut down. I can’t feel anything or recall how emotions normally feel. It is the complete absence of feeling, and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. It is the most isolating thing I have ever experienced, and every time I feel my mental health slipping I become fearful of that emotional numbing.

Perhaps my least favourite symptom that comes from being in a depressive episode is what I now call the nothingness.

When I’m numb, I would kill to feel sad or angry because then at least I would feel something. Many people I’ve tried to express this to simply can’t wrap their heads around it. I discovered a few months ago that this kind of emotional shutdown can be a response to past psychological trauma.

Going back to writing, it’s really no surprise that I struggle to do it a lot of the time. It’s sometimes like the parts of my brain that feed into creativity have been boarded up like an old abandoned house. It’s like somebody cauterized by ability to even think clearly, let alone comprehend those thoughts and translate them into words. 


Depression makes it feel as though my brain just won’t work in the way it’s supposed to; the way I know it can work. It feels like there is a thick cloud of fog filling up the spaces in my head. Things don’t seem right; things don’t make sense. I can’t even make decisions. The smallest of decisions feels disproportionately impossible. Do I want a glass of water or a glass of juice? Do I prefer red or blue? Am I a good person or a bad person for the answers I picked? I can’t decide what I want to watch, what I want to read, what music I want to listen to.

I know that I’m passionate about things, somewhere beneath all the fog, but those things seem shapeless; far away from me. I feel completely disconnected from myself, as though the body and mind I inhabit do not belong to me. I interact with my surroundings, but it’s all robotic. I’m not sure what is real.

It’s a cruel state of mind to be in. Perhaps it’s even crueller that all of this is invisible to the world around you and can be masked by a simple “I’m fine!” when somebody asks you how you’re feeling.

We have to be brave enough to answer “I’m not fine.”

About the Author:

Charlotte is a 26 year old writer from West Yorkshire in England. After a spinal cord tumour left her disabled at 19, she started writing about her experiences alongside her university studies. Her blog is called Of Books and Stardust. She also has ME and fibromyalgia, and has experienced mental health problems for most of her life. She writes to raise visibility and to help others feel less alone. Charlotte adores literature, has always loved caring for pet bunnies (or do they care for her?) and is passionate about spirituality, paganism and witchcraft.

The Tale of the Missing Ice Cream with The Chargimals: Chiarisaurus, Migrainopod, Depresosaur, Anxieton, and Misdiagnosaur

chargimals, chiari malformation, depression, anxiety, migraine, missed diagnosis

One bright and sunny afternoon Chiarisaurus, or Zippy, as his friends called him, and Migrainopod, Pod for short, went to the grocery store together. As they walked down the first isle Zippy started to feel really bad. His head started hurting and he got super dizzy. His vision started to get foggy and he told Pod he needed to sit down. Pod understood because sudden and severe headaches happened to Zippy a lot. So they sat down together right between the juice and water in the beverage isle. Pod didn’t care if it was socially unacceptable to sit down in the middle of a grocery store or not. He just wanted to make sure his friend was okay and do whatever he could to help.

chargimals, chiari malformation, migraine, anxiety, depression, missed diagnosis

Pod asked Zippy, “Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?”

“I would like some ice cream. That would help my head feel better.” Zippy said.

“You got it!” So Pod walked a few isles over to pick out a pint of ice cream, but there was no ice cream in the freezer. He walked around the whole store and saw that there was no ice cream anywhere. He went back over to Zippy and sat down beside him.

“There is no ice cream. It’s all gone.” Pod explained. “I don’t know what to do. What do you think?”

chargimals, depression, anxiety, migraine, chiari malformation, missed diagnosis

Zippy thought about it and said, “This sounds like a mystery that needs solving. But first I need a nap to help my head feel better.” So Pod helped Zippy up and they slowly walked out of the store eagerly chatting about who they could call to help them solve this mystery. On the way home Zippy said, “I think we should call Depresosaur. He’s always good in a crisis.”

“But when you play with D, Anxieton always has to come along. Sometimes she makes everything so scary and talks about all the things that could go wrong. She’s so anxious” Pod reminded Zippy.

“I know”, said Zippy, “and D is depressed but they are our friends and they’ll want to help us. What about Missy? Let’s call her too.”
“Missy can be so frustrating. She confuses me, but you’re right. We can definitely call her too.” Pod agreed. And they went home to rest and call their friends.

Once they got back home Zippy laid down to nap because his head still hurt. Meanwhile, Pod called D and explained to him the plan to solve the mystery of the missing ice cream.

“I don’t know, I’m so tired. I don’t want to get out of bed. You know we might not find the ice cream. I’m going to have to talk to Annie. I can’t do anything without her. If she wants to do it then maybe I’ll help. I’m just so depressed.” D complained.

“I know you are tired and sad, but Zippy really needs some ice cream. He has another bad Chiari headache and he said ice cream will make him feel better. Please help. It’s okay if Annie comes with you. We want her to help too.” Pleaded Pod.

After a brief minute, D conceded, “Oh, okay. I’ll get Annie and we’ll come right over to help. Anything for Zippy.”

chargimals, anxiety, depression, chiari malformation, migraines

Pod was so thankful that D and Annie were going to help find the ice cream for Zippy. He just wanted to help his friend feel better. He knows how bad Zippy’s Chiari headaches are and that not much can be done to relieve the pain and other symptoms they cause. If Zippy wanted ice cream then he was going to find that ice cream.

Pod decided to call Missy next. She was frustrating but he felt like she could help them if she would cooperate. “Yes, I’ll help. Wait, no I can’t. Something has come up. I don’t know. Maybe I can. I’m not sure.” Missy told Pod after he explained what was going on. Misdiagnosaur was always vague and no one ever quite new exactly what was going on with her.

“Missy, this is to help Zippy. Please come over and help us find the ice cream. We all just want to help him feel better.” Pod persisted.

“I can’t. I can’t tell you why either so don’t ask.” Missy finally said and that was the end of the conversation. It was all very confusing. It always was with Misdiagnosaur.

Pod shook his head and mumbled to himself about how Missy was so incredibly frustrating. Now he was even more confused but he had an idea. He went to talk to Zippy who was finally up from his nap.

“How are you feeling Zippy?” Pod asked.

“I feel a little better but I could really use some ice cream. Have you talked to anyone? Are they going to help us?”

“I did. D and Annie are on their way over now. Missy is being Missy, but I have an idea.” And with that the doorbell rang and it was Depresosaur and Anxieton.

All four Chargimals sat down and talked. Pod told them about his idea and they all agreed that the first thing they would do is go over to Missy’s and try talking to her again. Zippy was still not feeling very well but he gathered the strength to go along. He knew dealing with Missy would be hard, but he also knew he really wanted that ice cream and hoped they would be able to find it.

The Chargimals went to Missy’s and knocked on the door. When she opened the door she was holding a pint of ice cream in one hand and a spoon in the other and she clearly had ice cream in her mouth. She swallowed hard and looked at them knowing she was caught. Pod’s suspicions were confirmed. Misdiagnosaur took all the ice cream.

“Missy! Do you have all the ice cream?” Zippy asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe. No. I might. Perhaps I do.” Missy was so confusing. Of course she had the ice cream. She was standing there eating it!

“I have a Chiari headache, Missy. May I please have some ice cream so I can feel better?” Zippy asked politely even though he was really kind of mad at her for taking all the ice cream and not saying anything to Pod when he called her.

“I guess so. Come on in everyone. Let’s all have some ice cream.” Misdiagnosaur said and stepped back so they could all come inside.

chargimals, chiari malformation, depression, anxiety, migraine, missed diagnosis

The Chargimals sat down and all enjoyed some ice cream together. The mystery was solved and Zippy started to feel much better. He got his ice cream and he had great friends that would do everything they could to help him through the tough times he faced dealing with Chiari Malformation. He felt very lucky to have them and he couldn’t wait for their next adventure.

The Internal Struggles We Face with Multiple Chronic Illnesses.

Chronic illness is like eating potato chips – you can never have just one. At least that's true for me. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 1995 and since then I have had an avalanche of multiple other chronic illness diagnoses. From Depression and Anxiety to Fibromyalgia and Bile Salt Malabsorption to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Insomnia. I think the chronic nausea and diarrhea are there just for fun. I might have even missed a few, but you get the idea. I have a gamut of chronic nonsense happening writhing my body.

Chronic illness is like eating potato chips – you can never have just one.  At least that’s true for me. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1995 and since then I have had an avalanche of multiple other chronic illness diagnoses. From Depression and Anxiety to Fibromyalgia and Bile Salt Malabsorption to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Insomnia.  I think the chronic nausea and diarrhea are there just for fun. I might have even missed a few, but you get the idea. I have a gamut of chronic nonsense happening writhing my body.

The Day to Day: What will flare and what won’t?!

Sometimes everything can remain in check.  My bowels remain relatively calm and only give me somewhat minor issues. My depression and anxiety are held at bay with more positive things that might be occurring in my life. My insomnia gets tired and finally goes to sleep so I can rest. And I can sometimes even manage to move just enough, or just little enough, that my Fibromyalgia is mostly quiet and I don’t hurt as much as I usually do. Though these moments are super rare, they do occasionally happen. It’s never for long and never, ever predictable, but the moments do occur. And in those moments I feel like what I imagine a healthy person feels like; or at least someone less like myself.

Then there are the days when everything works against each other to cause complete and total anarchy in my body and brain.  A typical day like that is one of the toughest because I’m not only fighting one of my chronic illnesses, I’m fighting all of them at once. When these days happen the illnesses are just continually feeding off of each other.  It’s like fighting a Hydra – cut one head off and three more grow in its place. These days are challenging and just as unpredictable as the really good days, but somehow they happen more often.

I'm not only fighting one of my chronic illnesses, I'm fighting all of them at once. When these days happen the illnesses are just continually feeding off of each other.  It's like fighting a Hydra – cut one head off and three more grow in its place.  These days are challenging and just as unpredictable as the really good days, but somehow they happen more often.

Inside My Mind and Body with Chronic Illness

Chronic illness is like eating potato chips – you can never have just one. At least that's true for me. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 1995 and since then I have had an avalanche of multiple other chronic illness diagnoses. From Depression and Anxiety to Fibromyalgia and Bile Salt Malabsorption to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Insomnia. I think the chronic nausea and diarrhea are there just for fun. I might have even missed a few, but you get the idea. I have a gamut of chronic nonsense happening writhing my body.

Follow me down this rabbit hole of chronic illness overload to experience what my body goes through, and how it talks to itself.

It usually starts in the early hours of the morning between 4:00am and 6:00am.

Brain:  “Wake up!”

Anxiety:  “Hey remember that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re going down a roller coaster? That weird adrenaline rush feeling? Here you go. Do you feel it?”

Stomach:  “Ahh! What the heck??!!”

Body:  “Please, I’m tired.  Let’s sleep. Nothing is going on.  I’m safe. I’m warm. I’m okay. Just sleep.  Please.”

Anxiety:  “Nope. We have things to worry about.”

Body:  “Don’t wanna.  Wanna sleep.” Tries to roll over but realizes it hurts.  Elbows and wrists are stiff and achy. Legs feel heavy.

Brain:  “Nope. Not happening.”  

Bowels:  “Hey, guess what’s up?  I am! And I gotta go. NOW!”

Brain:  “Can’t we ignore you, bowels? You never play fair.”

Bowels:  “No way – gotta go – NOW!”

Body:  Manages to sit up. “Ouch, my back!”

Body:  “Must to run to the bathroom.” Quickly realizes everything hurts. Screams silently from every muscle and joint but knows we must make it to the bathroom or we’ll have an accident.  Curses bowels.

Bowels:  “We’re done.  For now. Heh, heh.”

Body:  “Please let’s go back to sleep now.  Everything hurts.” Manages to lay back in bed and get covers on top of me.

Brain:  “You can try but it isn’t going to work. I’m getting cranky.”

Anxiety:  “Remember that thing that you said but you should have said this instead?  Let’s think about that and replay the conversation twelve different ways over and over even though we know it will never happen. C’mon, it’ll be fun!”

Brain:  “No, that’s dumb.  Don’t think about anything.  Just lay here and be quiet.”

Body:  “Yes! Let’s sleep more.”

Bowels:  “NO! Let’s go again!”

Body:  I’m so tired.  I hurt so bad. Okay, I guess we’re doing this.  Throws covers off and runs to the bathroom again.

Brain:  “Maybe I am tired now.  But now I hurt. I’m going to ache and throb now.”

Depression:  “I hate everything.  I wish we could just hide under the covers and never get out of bed again. Like, ever.”

Body:  Drags self back to bed. Attempts to get comfortable.

Stomach:  “Hello? Yes, I still hurt.  I’m still here. Here’s a bad cramp because I’m feeling left out.”

Anxiety:  “What if…”

Brain:  Throb, throb, throb.

Body:  “Drink water. I need water. I’m dehydrated. Get up and get water.”

Stomach:  “Don’t do it.  I’ll reject any sort of hydration or nutrition you give me.”

Bowels:  “If Stomach doesn’t reject it I will.  Oh hey, let’s go AGAIN!”

Body:  “Ugh!” Runs to bathroom again.  “I’m so tired. I just want to lay down on the floor.  That bathroom rug looks comfortable. Let’s lay down.”

Brain:  “That floor is going to hurt so bad.  You might get down there but how are you going to get back up?” Throb, throb.

Bowels:  “Oh we’ll make sure she gets up. Heh, heh.”

Body:  “Fine, forget the floor.  I’ll go to bed.” Finally gets back to the bed and gets somewhat comfortable. “Why do I hurt so bad?  I did nothing yesterday that would cause this pain. I need a hot shower. Hey Bowels, how long until the next …. oh!” Runs to the bathroom again.

Bowels:  “Yeah, we’re doing this every fifteen minutes.  No shower for you today!”

Body: “Meh, I’m too tired to shower now anyway.”

Brain:  “What time is it now?” Throb, throb.  “Oh, we’ve only been awake an hour? It’s going to be a long, bad day.”  Throb, throb, throb.

Depression:  “I’m so tired of this. No one possibly understands how bad this is.  No one cares. This isn’t living. This is terrible. If we lay here still enough can we just stop breathing?”

Anxiety:  “But what about all the things you need to do?  What about all the things you have done? Let’s stop and reassess everything in your life right now.  Hey, remember that time in third grade when…”

Brain:  Throb, throb,  “No please, no.  Just everyone shut up!  I’m hurting.” Throb, throb, throb.

Body:  “Hey, I’ve been hurting and just want to sleep but no one is listening to me!”

Inside my mind and body with multiple chronic illnesses. Sometimes all I want to do is sleep!

Stomach:  “I don’t feel so good either. Brain pain is making me feel sick.  I think might throw up.”

Body:  “Oh no, I cannot handle retching right now.  It’s going to hurt so bad and it already feels like someone took a baseball bat to my back. Let’s try to lay back down.”

Bowels:  “Haha! No!”

And so on and so forth throughout the day as the never ending cycle of what happens when all my chronic illnesses come together and work as one, slowly feeding off of each other in another attempt to destroy me.  It’s excruciating and it’s exhausting. But somehow, every single time I make it through. These days are the worst, and even though at the time when my body is continually arguing with itself, I somehow always know that I will make it through.  The next day might not be so bad, or the day after that. So I hang on, just one more day. Because eventually, I will get one of those good days where all my chronic illnesses play nice with each other. And those are the best days.

Jenni Lock is the creator of Jenni’s Guts blog and writes about her journey with intestinal nonsense and other chronic health issues. Her sense of humor, sarcasm, and willingness to talk about the things most people just think are all part of her charm. Jenni is a nurse, however is unable to work due to struggling with Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Bile Acid Malabsorption, chronic nausea and diarrhea, Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia and PTSD. Learn more about Jenni and her guts at

Does ASMR really help anxiety and depression?

image shows the profile of a head, facing right, colored pink and purple and containing a white feather

Ever since I can remember I have been trying to find ways to calm my anxiety, in turn hoping this would ease my depression. Something that would soothe the tightness in my chest, the queasiness in my stomach, and the aches in my head, neck, and back that are triggered by stress and anxiety. I have tried baking, cooking, breathing exercises, and painting, not to mention trying distraction methods like watching TV and movies. Yes, these have all helped but that effect wears off in no time.

This all changed within a year, when I stumbled across my first ASMR video on YouTube. ASMR stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.”


The sole purpose of ASMR is to relax people. Ideally, ASMR videos are meant to give the viewer a relaxing tingle at the back of their head and/or spine. ASMR videos usually involve one or more of the following things:

• Gentle whispering 
• Relaxing hand movements 
• Smacking of the lips 
• Nail tapping/scratching on hard surfaces such as tables 
• Brushing sounds 

Although it sounds scientific, only one study has been published on the phenomenon, despite the fact that everyone in the world experiences physical responses to sounds. ASMR is along the same lines of getting frightened by a loud noise or cringing at nails on a chalkboard, except instead of a negative response, these sounds promote relaxation. The 2015 study found that 98 percent of people who seek out ASMR videos watch them for relaxation purposes, and 70 percent watch them specifically for stress and anxiety relief. Many participants added that they use ASMR videos to help where other therapeutic and medical interventions have failed to make a difference.

Once I stumbled upon the term, I fell into a rabbit hole of ASMR YouTube videos for every ASMR trigger imaginable. There are videos with soft-spoken voices, whispering, accents, crinkling, writing sounds, keyboard typing, tapping, water pouring, and so much more.

Although, these aren’t the ones that soothe me. They don’t send my brain into an abyss of calmness and serenity. Oh no, it is in fact slime and soap cutting videos that take me to my happy place.


photo shows pink slime or being dispensed like soft serve ice cream into a clear cup filled with dark red spheresVideo Type: Slime

The hallmarks of any good slime video are the pokes, prods, stretches, and folds. Watching people dip their fingers into goo and create popping and squishing noises ignites an instinctual response that’s either deeply unsettling or strangely satisfying to watch. These ASMR-inducing slime videos become even more hypnotising when other items are added into the mix, such as Styrofoam packing beads which act like bubble wrap, which just so happen to be another popular action featured in relaxation ASMR videos.

Slime is a soothing and calming approach to ASMR, which promotes relaxation and a therapeutic sense of well being, helping to de-stress. Boy, is this right. I can’t tell you how relaxing it is hearing the slime pop as its squished, hearing the different condiments put into the slime scratch together and create their unique sounds. I may not be happy to admit this, but slime has been the best method of relaxation for me to date.


Video Type: Soap Cuttingphoto shows a red wax/soap heart being cut into tiny cubes

Carving soap bars into tiny cubes is so satisfying visually and aurally that there’s a whole series of videos depicting its many pleasures.

The premise is simple: all you see is a pair of hands cutting up soap in various ways. The videos typically have no music, because the sound of the soap being sliced and diced is so heavenly, you would never want anything to disturb it. You can find soaps of all different colours, shapes, sizes, and textures, and Instagrammers cut them up using various tools and techniques, such as cutting up cubes of soap, slices and even crunching soap curls.

Other Uses for ASMR Videos

In her Elite Daily article, Megan Cary talks about how ASMR has been invaluable in managing her insomnia: “ASMR has not only given me hours of sleep back, but it has also given me hours of my life back.” She says that the videos help her turn her mind off and get her to sleep much faster. Lifehack also published an article about reducing stress with ASMR, citing ASMR as a creative way to manage anxiety through the euphoric and relaxing state these videos can inspire.

It can take time to find the triggers that work for you, and there are people who don’t feel anything while watching ASMR videos. Chances are, if you have ASMR, you probably already know it and have an idea of what you respond to. Either way, it’s worth checking out, especially if you struggle with stress and anxiety.

I’ve been hesitant to tell people about my love of ASMR videos, but I know that I shouldn’t be. I watch ASMR videos when I’m feeling anxious, having trouble concentrating, experiencing pain, and even when I’m depressed or discouraged. Anything that can help soothe anxiety, depression, and chronic pain for so many people is clearly a valuable resource, no matter how odd it might seem.

About the Author

Bethany is a 20 year old from England; she suffers from Raynauds, Erythromelalgia, GERD, Hypermobility, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD. She is also the creator of Young, Sick and Invisible: a Chronic Illness Blog.

5 Ways To Reduce Stress When Dating With Mental Illness

5 Ways to Reduce Stress When Dating with Mental Illness

There are a lot of people in this world who find dating absolutely terrifying. Let’s face it: most of us have had the broccoli-in-the-teeth moment at a fancy restaurant.

Many who suffer with mental illness endure dating nerves over double the intensity of those without mental illness. The reality is, mental illness can impact human relationships in general, whether platonic or romantic.

It’s not always easy to navigate social settings. That being said, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

5 Ways to Reeuce Stress When Dating with Mental IllnessThis world can be a pretty lonely place. Having loved ones to share it with is definitely one of the perks of being human. Yet something a lot of us struggle with is expressing ourselves. Figuring out how to explain difficult, often sensitive, topics to others can be an overwhelming, daunting process.

I have compiled a list of why people with mental health issues may struggle with dating. Now whenever your Gran starts nagging you to find your future spouse, I’ve got your back! You can literally just thrust this article in her face then frogmarch out of there like a boss.

Sadly, I can’t promise it will stop the nagging, but it may at least make her think twice.

Why might people with mental health issues struggle with dating?

You don’t feel good enough.

If you suffer with a mental illness, especially depression, you will know exactly what I’m referring to. The mind monsters come out to play, causing you to have negative thoughts and low opinions of yourself. It’s very easy to let your mental illness trick you into believing that you are unloveable.

A common worry for those dating with mental illness is that they have too much baggage. They begin to wonder whether anyone would ever want to take them on when they could find someone without mental health issues.

It feels like too much effort.

It doesn’t matter what mental illness(es) you suffer from: there is no “one size fits all.” You could find two people unusually identical in every way, suffering from the same illness. Even then, it’s still highly unlikely that the symptoms they experience will be the same.

However, it’s very common to feel fed up and worn out. The process of arranging and actually participating in dating is a lot of effort. Not to mention the prospect of feelings getting involved can be terrifying. The whole thing can seem like a mammoth task when suffering with mental illness.

You are scared of it impacting your mental illness and making it worse.

It’s a well known fact that our emotions in general can wreak havoc on our mental health issues. Inviting others into our lives and giving them the power to impact our thoughts and feelings can be panic-inducing. Why would you want to give someone the power and ability to hurt you?

You don’t know how to express yourself or explain your mental illness.

It can be difficult to express yourself when dating with mental illness.It can be difficult to express yourself. That’s a worry for a lot of people. When you have a mental illness that you have to try and explain? Well, it’s a whole new ballgame. How do you explain something you can’t fully understand yourself, am I right? Trying to figure out how to put into words something so complex seems impossible. It’s not as simple as asking a sketch artist to draw your description.

You panic yourself out of it.

I have lost count of the number of social situations I have talked myself out of over the years! It’s way too easy to think of justifiable reasons for why you shouldn’t do something. Even people without mental illness often let the fear of the unknown hold them back.

The real question is, what do you do? Well, I may be able to help you there.

5 Easy Ways To Reduce Stress When Dating

  • Choose a date idea that you are comfortable with. For example, if you are worried about eating in public, go bowling instead.
  • If you are concerned about your conversational skills, watch a movie; it gives you a topic to discuss.
  • Ask to be involved in the planning. Your input will be used when deciding the venue and the activity.
  • To ensure you will get along, arrange a video call before the date. It’s basically a face-to-face chat, but with the safety of the “end call” button.
  • Wear clothes you are comfortable in, especially shoes. It’s tempting to wear those killer heels, right? The trouble is, your feet hurting before you even reach the destination? Instant black cloud over your mood.

There are ways to overcome the challenges of dating with mental illness.At the end of the day, dating can be tough. Especially when you suffer with mental health issues.

The good news is when you meet someone who is perfect for you and your quirks, none of it will matter.

The truth is, as cliché as it sounds, it’s important to always follow your heart. If you are uncomfortable on a date then say so. If you are nervous, be honest about that.

It’s important that you never let anyone put you into a situation you are unhappy with. Anyone who is into you for the right reasons will be understanding and happy to follow your lead.

Just remember, life is way too short to let your mental illness take control of it.

Dating is not for everyone. There’s no question that dating while also trying to handle chronic illness can present some significant and unique challenges.

But what if you could get to know someone before you even meet in person? If you have a chronic illness and are looking to meet new people, check out this promising new dating app Lemonayde. Made for people with health challenges, it allows you to connect with others with chronic illnesses just like you from the comfort of home!

About the Author:

Sarah Jenna Jayne write about dating with mental illness at The Unchargeables.Sarah is a blogger who focuses primarily on chronic illness and mental health. Sarah also shares some of the embarrassing parts of her personal life when she’s feeling brave!

Chronic Illness Means Taking One Day at a Time

Chronic Illness Self Care

Life Altered by Multiple Chronic Illness Diagnosis

Chronic illness has completely altered my life. I went from a two sport varsity athlete in high school to a person who functions at a pain level that would leave most people bedridden. Now life has been consumed by handfuls of pills twice a day, at least one doctor’s appointment a week, constant pain, exhaustion, and more difficulties. After struggling for over a year to get an accurate diagnosis I finally ended up with several: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogrens Syndrome, Graves’ Disease, Fibromyalgia, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


Seeking Sobriety and Answers

I can’t tell you when the pain started. I spent years as a full time heroin addict, and while I was using I wasn’t in pain. But every attempt to get sober left me in agony even after withdrawing from the drugs; which only lead to relapse after relapse. Every attempt at sobriety would lead me to a different doctor for an answer, but every doctor assumed it was Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. I knew in my heart there was something seriously wrong, but I couldn’t find anyone who believed me. Eventually I managed to get sober and continued my fight for an answer to my pain. Every doctor I saw just assumed I was looking for drugs, even when I told them I didn’t want any narcotics. I went from doctor to doctor looking for someone who believed me and would help me finding an answer. I finally found one, over a year after I began my search. A few months later I got my answer. It came with a laundry list of health problems.

Chronic Illness Diagnosis Too Much to Bare

A few weeks after getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis I landed in a mental hospital for a suicide attempt. I was so overwhelmed by the idea of dealing with pain everyday for the rest of my life that I assumed I couldn’t do it. I didn’t really want to die, I later realized, I was just afraid of a life of constant pain. Fear is a completely overwhelming emotion and I was terrified thinking of the kind of life I was being forced to live.

Chronic Illness Struggles

Struggling to Stay in School

Throughout all of this I struggled my way through college. I am currently studying the prerequisites to get into the nursing program. Just this past semester I developed a serious infection that was sensitive to only five antibiotics. As it turned out I was allergic to four of them.  I spent weeks covered in a rash because of constant allergic reactions. I ended up with a PICC line to take the final antibiotic that would work, which was only available as an IV antibiotic. It took three weeks on that medication to heal. Thankfully it worked and I was finally free of the infection. But throughout all of that keeping up with classes wasn’t possible and one had to be dropped.

Immunosuppressant Therapy for Chronic Illness

Once I was free of the infection I could start my treatment for the Rheumatoid Arthritis- it was an immunosuppressant. This medication, which is also used in chemotherapy, makes me sick for at least one day, usually two. Once I realized this fact my mental health took another turn for the worse. This time going to the hospital was not an option.  It was only a few weeks away from finals and past the date to withdraw from the class. The doctor upped the antidepressant which caused suicidal thoughts. I decided that if the next change my doctor made didn’t help I would take my parents wrath and go to the hospital for help. Thankfully the change the doctor made worked. I was no longer suicidal. The depression remained as a hard consequence of chronic pain.

Looking for Positive Side of Chronic Illness

Everyday is a struggle to keep looking for the positive when it all feels negative. Sometimes I think the light at the end of the tunnel is just a train that’s going to hit me at full speed. And sometimes that is what it feels like. But I searched for a group of people who understand the kind of struggles I have. Thankfully I found a few and began to make friends with others who have similar challenges. I began to talk to my family members who also struggle with chronic illnesses.  I created a beautiful new relationship with my mother who struggles with almost the exact same situations as me. Anyone can find help through The Unchargeables Chronic Illness Support Group.

Chronic Illness Self Care

Chronic Illness Self Care

I realized that I can’t look at my whole life at once but instead I now try to take it a day at a time and go easy on myself. I can’t control what may or may not happen in the future,  but I can control what I do today. And today I choose to allow my doctors to attempt to put my body back together while I focus on what I can do to better myself. I do what’s put in front of me:  run the errands, study, go to appointments, and on and on.  When things get overwhelming I do some self-care. It’s hard for me to do self-care because I tend to forget about it with everything else going on. I love taking baths and writing poetry and that’s what I try to do as often as possible. Life is still hard, but every day I do something, even if all I can do that day is get dressed. I’m grateful that today I have people in my life who understand my struggles and love me through them.

About the Author

Chris Unchargeables Guest AuthorChris Thoman is 23 years old, a college student, and lives with several chronic illnesses. He loves meeting and talking to new people, especially those who struggle with similar things as him. You can follow Chris on Instagram at