Sunday, July 7, 2013

Recurring Symptoms

My new slippers!! :D

Things have been very slow and steady around the den for awhile (when I say 'den' I mean my own little world full of comfort and quietitude..) since semester one finished. Unfortunately that has as much to do with my health as a personal choice to take it easy, as I keep having migraine symptoms almost every day. I thought I might write a little post as a reminder to myself and to others of how to deal with symptoms that just keep coming back so that when (if) they do come back, I shall feel prepared!

The main problem with recurring symptoms is that they can make you feel helpless and overwhelmed - painkillers might not be working, or you've tried to change your diet and that's just not making them go away, or maybe it's a symptom like nausea or dizziness which really interferes with your ability to function properly. Their constant presence can be extremely frustrating and confusing, and can feel like it's slowly wearing down your motivation and strength until you may do things like: snap at someone you love, drift into depression, feel anxious all the time that the symptoms will always be there, or convince yourself that these symptoms mean you have something worse lurking within your own body. All in all, it's not a comfortable state to be in.

If you are getting recurring symptoms and you're starting to feel this way, I want you to remember three main things:

  1. Look after yourself.
    I cannot stress this enough. I've noticed that sometimes all I want is for someone else to look after me, but that is not always available and so I need to do it myself. So try and learn any tricks you can that help with your symptoms. As an example, here are some of my go-to tricks lately: lower the lights (this helps with headaches if you're light sensitive, and can also foster a comforting aura to the room), making sure I have plenty of fluids nearby (water, flavoured water, tea, fresh juice - I try to make sure it's healthy and tasty and I remind myself to keep drinking as this helps any toxins move through my body and keeps me hydrated), change into loose clothes (I find if I feel more comfortable, I relax better and am more likely to feel better), and grabbing a heat pack (sometimes I use this for a specific pain, and sometimes I just want the warmth. also, my heat pack is a blue dinosaur called Aoife, so...)
  2. Find comforting things.
    As I mentioned above with loose clothes, when you feel comfortable you often feel emotionally better, which can lead to feeling physically better. So find those things that make you feel comfortable and safe, and get them nearby. My favourites include: blankets, pillows, pets (or soft toys, as they have a comforting and nurturing presence, too), and favourite movies/tv shows/books/games (within reason here, as if you have a migraine coming, bright flashing lights are a terrible idea. However, everyone has a different relaxation level - some people use zombie shooters to relax, while others need only a good book. Find your level!)
  3. If you have to keep working or being active, show yourself some compassion.
    Sometimes you're working or out and about when the symptoms come in. Sometimes it means you have to slowly work towards making plans to go home earlier than you expected. This can feel awful and like you're letting others down, but remember to be compassionate with yourself and not to bully yourself or guilt yourself into avoiding rest. If all you can do at the time is ask for a chair so you can sit down, just do it. People would prefer that you grab a chair instead of passing out. If you need to locate a bathroom, don't let pride or ego step in the way of doing that. If you're with a loved one, try to enlist their help so that you can feel better. I can't tell you the amount of times I've had to lean on Xin or get him to help find me a chair or something. He's been a champion every time. Show compassion for yourself.
Just remember that everyone gets sick - some people more often than others - and getting better is sometimes a really long process, so recurrent symptoms can be common. If you're really worried, definitely go see your doctor - I strongly believe in the phrase 'better to be safe than sorry' and I think some people really put off seeing the doctor. It all comes down to how quickly you start looking after yourself, as that can vastly influence your recovery time.

I hope this post helps you to show yourself some kindness in the face of feeling unwell, and that if you are feeling unwell now, you have a swift recovery!

Love to all who read!


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