Overcoming Chronic Illness and Stress

purple flowerOver the course of 3 years I have avoided becoming too personal in this blog, lest I become maudlin and repel readers. Today I’m choosing to share my experiences as a  person with invisible disabilities (fibromylagia, chronic fatigue,  multiple food and drug allergies) and how I have learned to take care of myself.  Hopefully, my readers will share what they do to take care of themselves in return.

According to the  “Stress in America” study from the American Psychology Association the top stresses included work and money, and I doubt the situation is much different for Canadians.  We live in stressful times  and stress causes a stronger physical reaction for some of us than it does for others. I am among those who are very sensitive to stress and profoundly effected by it.

While short term stress can trigger chemicals that can improve memory, increase energy, stimulating alertness and productivity, the same cannot be said of long term stress.  Chronic stress can have a profoundly negative impact on the body. Are you aware of these facts?

  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of adults living in the U.S. have been told by a health care provider that they have one or more chronic conditions, most commonly high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • The vast majority of adults indicated that their health care provider recommended lifestyle and behavior changes (70 percent).
  • Few adults reported that their health care provider offered support to help them make lasting changes: only 46 percent were given an explanation for the recommendation; only 35 percent were offered advice or shown techniques to help make changes; and only 5-10 percent were referred to another health care provider to support the adoption of lifestyle changes.
  • Further, only 48 percent of adults reported that their health care providers followed up with them to check on their progress in making lifestyle and behavior changes — such as quitting smoking, getting more sleep, reducing stress, exercising, losing weight and choosing healthier foods.
  • In general, people cited a number of barriers in their efforts to make lasting lifestyle and behavior changes — lack of willpower (33 percent); not enough time (20 percent); and lack of confidence (14 percent).
  • More than one in ten people cited stress as the barrier preventing them from making lifestyle and behavior changes (14 percent of adults reported they are too stressed to make these changes).

The APA offers the following tips on how to manage your stress:  Identify your sources of stress; Learn your own stress signals; Recognize how you deal with stress; Find healthy ways to manage stress; Take care of yourself; Reach out for support.

My experience

In recent years my health has been so compromised that I have been unable to work full time. I had to make a complete lifestyle change from being fit and outdoorsy person, who made a good income and was active in the community to one who leads a semi-sedentary indoor life. My inability to earn a living and a downturn in business compelled my husband and I to assess what changes we could make that resulted in spending less. We were already frugal but we learned how do well on even less.

Gratitude adjustment

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “the attitude of gratitude” many times as professional speakers use it frequently. Well, prior to the shift to mobilizing  I made an attitude adjustment. I accepted the fact I was not going to become magically cured of my ailments. I recognized if I didn’t act to counter the self talk in my head I would become depressed so I made it a goal not to complain about my health and my life. Instead, I decided to accentuate the positive.

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude. — Albert Schweitzer

I began to let people near and dear to me know that I appreciated them and was grateful that they were part of my life.  At the same time I began distance myself from people who were I felt were sucking energy out of me.

Happiness is a choice

Being happy is a choice we make minute by minute,  hour by hour, and sometimes day by day. You can choose not to let other people’s misery effect your  level of joy.  If you are stressed out  need a few minutes of peace,  let the phone ring. If you don’t want to listen to the negative talk then leave the room or if you are online log out and get some fresh air,  or spend some time in solitude, or seek better company.

Clearly, you are  not responsible for anyone’s choice to be happy or miserable; you are only responsible for your own choices.  Empower yourself so you can ignore emotionally draining people and  remain happy. Choose to be free of  negativity today and decide to be happy tomorrow, no matter what may happen.

If you are are standing at a crossroads in your life then you realize deep inside that if you choose this new direction, your life will never be the same again. The most difficult thing to do is be honest with yourself but once you have done that you can begin to set goals and achieve them.

Lessons learned

I recognized that being informed of current events and aware of how they may impact my life was sensible.  I also recognized that media has a powerful impact on my mental state, so decided to limit my exposure to negative information that gave rise to worry and anxiety. I also implemented  stress reduction strategies and began practicing aromatherapy.

I turned my focus inward and reexamined my core values and replaced those that were plain wrong or no longer useful with healthy ones.  I learned how to love myself. My best friend and I have all the essential ingredients for enduring  long term relationship and little things do mean lots.

I developed constructive approaches for conquering fear of rejection. (See also: Smash fear, Learn anything. )  I  learned how to cope with fibromylagia and the other health challenges I face, and I discovered that  the more gratitude I expressed the less fear I felt.


Instead of fixating  on what was beyond my control I decided to use all my yoga training and my Buddhist training and focus positively on what I had and make more changes from the inside out.  I practiced mindfulness and gratitude. I learned I could choose to be happy in the now moment, and I determined to habituate myself to making that choice over and over again.

Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior, described a time when his mentor, named Socrates, challenged Dan to sit out on a large, flat stone until he had “something of value” to share. …

Finally, Dan had an insight that he knew was something of value. When Dan shared this insight, Socrates looked up, smiled, and welcomed Dan back inside. The “something of value” that Dan had realized was this: “There are no ordinary moments.” This is the essence of gratitude. No moment, nothing in life, should be taken for granted.

In developing gratitude for every moment — for the simple joys, and even for the challenging times in our lives — we come to truly enjoy and appreciate life. Then we are able to see the magic that surrounds us every second of every minute of every day.

Taking care of me

Without doubt the quality of my life experience is influenced by my attitude.  I can choose to cope with my circumstances rather than choosing to rant about them or to sink into depression.   Better still I can look for opportunities for growth and change even when times are tough and I am feeling ill and stressed out.

I choose to take care of myself by

  1. starting the day in silence
  2. eating a healthy diet (primarily organic food)
  3. affirmations and inspirational reading
  4. breathing exercises and relaxation techniques
  5. mindfulness practice
  6. meditation and positive imagery
  7. exercising every day (yoga and walking)
  8. container gardening
  9. listening to and singing spiritual music
  10. dancing and having fun
  11. spending time with those I love, including my dogs
  12. allowing more unassigned time for rest and relaxation
  13. shamanic journeys and spiritual workshops
  14. daydreaming and journaling my night time dreams
  15. painting
  16. physiotherapy
  17. massage – essential carrier oils for massage
  18. hot bubblebaths
  19. aromatherapy — essential oils for treating fatigue; essential oils for treating stress
  20. getting a good night’s sleep

Discussion Question

What do you do to take care of yourself?


  1. […] Any mental or emotional response to change, either in the form of attachment to the past, or aversion to what’s current, or fixation on the future,  is ultimately an expression of fear. Fear can manifest in many forms and be directed inwardly or outwardly. Our most deeply-rooted fear the fear of death and it’s frightening regardless of what age you are.  If we are to live well,  we have no choice but to overcome our fear. […]

  2. […] I have used my journal to recall abuse and heal from it. I used my journal to chart my course through cancer, through recovery from a head injury. I’m currently recording my life struggles as a disabled person committed to overcoming chronic illness and stress. […]

  3. […] 7. Overcoming chronic illness and stress – time thief at this time ~ this space “While short term stress can trigger chemicals that can improve memory, increase energy, stimulating alertness and productivity, the same cannot be said of long term stress.  Chronic stress can have a profoundly negative impact on the body. Are you aware of these facts?” […]

  4. […] you think about ourself and others and how you feel and whom you choose to share your life with.  Stress is literally a killer and if you are are unsatisfied with the way things are now, you  can choose to take personal […]

  5. Hi TT,
    I am not sure of the differences between fibromyalgia and arthritis. I know both involve joint and muscle pain, are very debilitating, and like all chronic pain wear you down physically and mentally. I have degenerative arthritis and am trying to overcome the onslaught of curvature of my spine. Let’s just say that I am looking at the ground alot more these days.
    I have begun visiting your site more and more. For I am truly impressed with the overall tone of your spirit that comes through your posts loud and clear. You do not cave in, nor give up. You live in the moment and appreciate the goodness that surrounds you. Your respect for life and goodness is apparent. It is these traits and your Buddhist religion that prompted me to write the post “God and Religion”. Regardless of the religion, that we practice, God speaks to all of us, in the manner that we can hear Him.
    So, to all of your readership, I urge each of you to pray to God in behalf of TT, to continue to help her in her struggles, and pain. In so doing, may she continue to do good work for all of God’s children. Thank you for being you.

    • Oh my I just found this comment unanswered! . I’m so sorry I must have approved it and was then interrupted by company before I answered so I forgot. I’ve been vacationing and I’m not on top of things in the blogging world. I’m so sorry to hear about your spine. you’re right I do try to focus on living in the moment and I’m getting better at it little by little. Thank you for being you too and also for being a friend.
      May peace and love be with you always,

  6. I don’t know how in the world I got from an e-mail from a stranger to this blog post by another stranger. I’d call it synchronicity. I read the whole thing and admire you tremendously for writing it. I have fibromyalgia and a few other chronic conditions, so I truly got it. I’m still working and am fortunate to be able to do so. Thanks for your courage and encouragement. You have a wonderful outlook and I would do well to borrow it.

    • Hi Bobbi,
      I’m so sorry to hear that fibromyalgia’s got you too. And, I’m sorry I didn’t reply immediately after I moderated comments but I couldn’t – I had to take care of me amidst the melee. It’s summertime and business is booming. As well as that I have company and I will have more company coming until Labor Day weekend.

      Thanks so much for letting me know you found my blog and found value in what I share here. I hope you do find more encouragement in my articles as this blog basically contains the things I focus on and what I do to improve my life.

      Love yourself and take care of you, Bobbi. :)

  7. It was awesome to come across your post! Not that you have had such a difficult time, but that the timing is so perfect as I am just coming to a realization of a lot of the things. I will definitely be back! Come and visit when you can!
    Some of my recent posts- everyone has limits, do you know yours?
    10 steps to avoid mental breakdown, and Is your brain on overload? and more!

  8. Thank you for your post. I, too, have CFS and FM. I’ve been sick for over 20 years, but in so many ways it has been as much a blessing as a curse. I’ve just started blogging and recently wrote a post on my journey with this illness. The title is “Atmara Rebecca Cloe-Disabling Disease brings Blessed Life.” I offer it as inspiration to anyone dealing with illness or disability. I don’t want to spam here, but if you go to my website you can find it listed under recent posts. Blessings to all of you. Atmara

    • Thanks for making reference to the blessing part of coping with disabilities. I will be making time to visit your site again and read your post. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  9. Hello,

    Overcoming chronic illness and stress can also lead to stress! When I finally accepted my illness it was a step towards becoming more aware of my body, mind, and spirit. There are many positive aspects to these changes… mostly getting to know people like you. I have made new friends, connected with other people dealing with chronic illnesses, and others who simply care about people. I have gained support from total strangers, been able to learn and experience wonderful thoughts, feelings, and emotions I have been able to share with a diverse group of individuals.

    Life is what we make of it and attitude does make a difference. We are experiencing ways to manage our lives, balance opportunities, and a different way of adapting and learning about ourselves and the world around us. The new path and experiences are not always comfortable or easy. Kudos to you for sharing your thoughts!

    You have made a difference in my life and I thank you for sharing.

    With sincere thoughts and feelings,

    Fibro Viv

    P.S. Funny, I even nicknamed myself Fibro Viv! It was part of the path to accepting fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. I have not experienced a full recovery and find it hard to believe anyone has (totally my opinion).

    • Dear Viviana,
      Thank you so much for your friendship, encouragement and support. You have made a difference to my life as well. Like you I have not experienced full physical recovery and I also do not know anyone else who has.

      I have made so much progress when it comes to attitudinal adjustment, understanding the body and mind connection, and spiritual growth that I’m truly not complaining.

      Would I be delighted if I was magically cured of my ailments? Of course! But I’m no longer a person who is desperately seeking cures. As soon as I accepted my circumstances I became grateful to be alive. Then I could move forward and meet the challenges of coping and growing in spite of the pain.

      With much love,

  10. Something I struggle with from time to time is depression. I have insight into how my particular black dog was born, and although it has at various times in my life prostrated me, I have learned a couple of things about that.

    1/ Feeling anger, for me, is a healthy sign. When I say anger, I mean an impatient rage that an illness such as this stops me from living, when there are those that I love who are dead and in their graves with no second chance. When I feel this anger (not directed at myself or others, but at my illness) I know I am about to win my battle with it. I think it links with what shesboxingclever says about having a healthy interest in your own wellbeing, in treating yourself with scrupulous care. You have to. When doing first aid training, the first thing you are taught before even touching the patient is to assess the danger of the situation and do nothing that might endanger yourself. You are no use to anybody else if you cannot act, that holds true in every life situation.

    2/I have to exercise and be outdoors. I knew I was getting better recently when my interest in running came back, the trick of course is to keep on running when you would prefer to hide under the blankets all day. But I have been learning to nurture myself, and lately I have started taking this one thing very seriously. I know it helps, I can feel it working. Everyone has a simple thing they can do for themselves that costs nothing, we owe it to ourselves and those around us to do that thing.

    I only come here to read intermittently, but I love the honesty with which you have opened up here, and thank you for it.

    • Oh Bird I hear you and I’m so sorry I missed replying to your comment when I first got it. Aarraggghh! This is an example of fibro-fuzzy thinking because I was sure I had answered all the comments on this post and yet I just now stumbled on three I hadn’t replied to and yours was among them.

      The analogy you make to first aide training is so appropriate. And for me being outside part of the day is also a health requirement. I have also learned that if I do not nurture myself and care for myself I become depressed. Even when I ache everywhere and am so tired I feel like sleeping forever once I drag myself out into nature I get part of what I need to pick myself up and carry on. I re-energize and I need that boost every day.

      Love and peace,

  11. Learning to take care of myself has been a gradual learning process. Most of the time was taken in my learning what the real problems were.
    Some of them were ordinary and common but influential – bad diet, insufficient rest & exercise and poor choices of company. I now eat well and sensibly, work hard physically using better body mechanics, get enough rest, and only spend time in the best company (online and off). I’m stronger and healthier despite being older.

    Now that I’m going through an enforced no TV, no internet and barely cell phone phase I’m considering downsizing those activities too. I’m just as happy reading and writing.

    I sincerely hope your difficulty leads you to new wisdom. That is at least a fair trade for your suffering.

    • Hi Mikey,
      I smiled when I read you were happy reading and writing.

      There is strength to be found in suffering and also opportunities for personal growth. I became more appreciative for the love and compassion I received. I developed greater awareness of and sensitivity to the suffering of others. Most of all, I became motivated to become a better person – the best person I could be, and I knew the place to start was to learn to take care of me.

  12. Happiness is certainly a choice. One that not enough people make. It often saddens me to watch people take the wrong direction when faced with an opportunity to take the peaceful, more joyful path. It’s also very incredible how one person can walk into a room with a sullen, negative attitude and turn the whole place into an emotional shamble. I’m always more struck by how willing the other occupants in the room are to let it happen.

    Although it’s been topic for argument in the past, I stand by my belief that one of the best ways to take care of myself is to maintain a healthy balance of selfishness. I look out for number one, first and foremost, in almost every situation. So much of my life is, and has been, spent caring for others…my children, family, community etc, that I’ve learned how ineffective it is to put others first before myself. I know that if my soul is not content, then I am not able to fully provide the care that I wish to provide. If I have not taken the time to refresh and replenish my own being, striving to be the best that I can be, then I can’t possibly help those around me to be the best that THEY can be.

    I say that it has been a topic for argument because I suppose some of my methods fit into the cliche of what is “selfish”. For instance, I don’t believe in sharing everything. If I have provided a “treat” to all of my children, then I don’t “share” my treat. I take a certain comfort in realizing the importance of satisfying myself fully. It allows me to live without resentment, envy or jealousy. This in turn grants me the freedom to give of myself completely in aspects of life that warrant my attention. It then becomes a win/win situation for the recipients in my life. And this makes me happy.

    My oldest daughter and I have spent a fair amount of time lately discussing the meaning of “spirituality”. I have explained to her that in my eyes, spirituality means the process of finding what feeds your soul. Finding those things that bring true comfort, true honesty, and true happiness. She has begun to realize that it is important to stop and consider all things in life and to determine the benefit they may have on the soul.

    This consideration is the number one way I take care of myself. Consciously making a mental note of the emotion an experience generates helps me to classify it. I then surround myself with those experiences to maintain a healthy level of emotion. This could be something as simple as planting a seed, solely because the smell of fresh earth reminds me of the life I can bring forth in so many other ways.

    Much like your list of ways you take care of yourself, I fill my days with things I enjoy personally. Since beginning my journey towards living without obligation, in which people come and people go, this has become easier and the benefits are enormous. It has opened the door to filling my life with people like you, people who can inspire, people who can recognize an opportunity to create thought and emotion with every experience. I am grateful, and that has the power to make us both happy.

    • @SBC
      I’m honored by your comment that I’m close to being speechless. I published this post with some trepidation and I’m now overwhelmed with the emotions evoked by the replies I have received. In my off-line life I have lost two dear friends and have felt bereft for months as I struggle through the grieving process. Yet, in my online life I have gained many more friends with so much insight and wisdom and love to share. I’m so grateful that we have met. Thank you so much for being a friend.

  13. I didn’t realize you had this blog until I found the link on Always Well Within. Great post! To ease stress, I:
    Go swimming
    Go for a walk
    Go out on my patio and have a nap or read
    Hot as I can stand bath
    listen to music
    Be alone
    Be with a friend
    Do things in a routine way
    Play a game online or video game
    Play a game
    Sudoku or crosswords
    Pace (honestly)
    Eat something sweet
    Write on my blog and read other blogs

    Guess that’s about it.

    • Hello Lisa,
      It’s great to meet you and to find you have come by way of on of my favorite blogs by one of my favorite bloggers. allswellwithin is such a wonderful read and Sandra and such a wonderful way of sharing in it.

      Your list contains stress reduction strategies I overlooked completely. You have included swimming. I’m not much into swimming but I love beach combing and on very hot days I enjoy paddling in the sea. You also include pacing and that’s in a way related to walking meditations which I do almost everyday.

      Thank you for visiting my blog and for sharing in it. I appreciate you searching it out, and hope to get to know you better.

  14. […] Overcoming chronic illness and stress – TimeThief explores the transforming effects of gratitude and mindfulness. She also shares 20 ways for taking care of oneself.  Catch a glimpse of her blog redesign, too. It’s gorgeous! […]

  15. @Marie
    I remain a reader of your blog which is an outstanding one. To acquaint my other readers with your blog I’m posting an excerpt from your About page below:

    “I’m passing along a collection of excerpts from my personal and therapy journals to whomever needs to read them. I’m sharing my story so that those of you who are on a similar journey can know that you aren’t the only one – and so you can know that there is a way through. It is my intention to tell my story with both authenticity and dignity.” From: About Coming out if the trees

    Thank you for reading my article and for the positive feedback you left here. I appreciate it very much.

  16. Hi, TT –

    I am inspired by the priority you have placed on maintaining a peaceful and strong spirit. Thank you for sharing all your ideas!

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  17. TiTi, I love your wonderful attitude. I have spent many years suffering with endometriosis, kidney stones, depression and migraines. Attitude completely helps. Taking care of myself helps. You’re absolutely right. I love seeing that you have this air of positivity and self-balance. You are wonderful for it. Prayers that you always maintain yourself in this healthy way. HUGS and MORE HUGS, my friend.
    Love, Antonia

  18. Hi TimeThief, I was sorry to hear about your struggles with illness but I’m glad you have developed a way to cope with them day to day. Your words are very inspirational to people in similar situations and I applaud your honesty in opening up on your blog this way. I have had my problems with my healthcare provider also being passed from one so called Specialist to another in the search for a name for the illness that has consumed my life, my way of dealing with my problems has always been to write about them as it’s easier for me to express myself this way rather than talking with family members and I am only just recently able to open up more to my Psychologist after three months of weekly visits. My blog keeps me sane and the other writing I do calms my depression to a bearable level. I just wanted to say that I truly respect your spirit of perseverance and your unconquerable spirit.

    • @Andrew
      I’m so happy to hear you found my self revealing article to be inspiring. I hoped that it would have that effect. Your ability to use your blog for cathartic and self strengthening purposes is likewise inspiring to me. I salute and respect every effort you make to overcome the challenges you face and to share your experiences with others.

  19. TT-my admiration is boundless for your courage and perseverance in dealing with your many health issues. Your openness and versatility to so many avenues of healing seems to be the key factor here. You’re such a fighter and what an example for others battling such a wide variety of difficulties in their own lives. I guess I’m lucky and have always led a very low stress existence. I was determined from a very early age to live simply and have very few wants. And since my health has always been relatively good, living for me, at least so far, has been pretty easy. Take care, my friend. Wishing you a wonderful summer.

    • @nothingprofound
      Thanks so much for your positive feedback on my article. In believe your choice to live a simple life was and remains a very important element when it comes to stress reduction. I hope what I have shared will encourage others to rise above their circumstances by developing an action plan for taking care of themselves. Like a stone tossed into quiet waters the ripples of consciousness spread outward in concentric circles. May you also have a wonderful summer and remain healthy and happy.

  20. Hi TiTi

    Wonderful post. There is so much we can do to help ourselves, rather than being reliant on others to rescue us.

    I know little about fibromyalgia and a little about CFS. I do however, understand about others perceptions of illnesses that ‘can’t be seen’ – the ‘pull yourself together illnesses’. There is little quarter given in the UK to illnesses that cannot be set within a defined medical framework.

    I am a recovered alcoholic, and today I am comfortable to admit that to anyone – I never know when I am making a connection. Without doubt 100% of people I tell are astounded. They usually say ‘you don’t look like one’. What I have found is that people, usually women, will tell me their ‘hidden’ illness and ask me what I did to get well. Only yesterday, I was at a women’s meeting and this woman, in her thirties asked to talk to me alone – she showed me her arms covered in scars from self-harming and asked what could she do, she was full of shame and desperation. I understand what it is to live in shame, believeing I am a bad person rather than an ill one.

    Today I am well but to get well and stay well, I have had to change every single thing about my life. Like you, I am overly-sensitive to stress, I no longer reach for a drink but I do go down physically at an alarming rate. If I am overly-stressed I break out in eczema, get mouth ulcers, bladder irritation, insomnia, stomach upsets – it’s the way I am made. However, having insight is powerful and today I take full responsibility for myself and keep myself out of trigger stressful situations wherver possible. I left a very highly paid job that was driving me insane and my husband by proxy. We now live out in the country and I work much less.

    As you explained so well, we can focus on all the positives, and live the life we have in a spirit of love and gratitude. Today, I choose to be happy.

    I believe I have a responsibility to share my experience strength and hope, if I help just one person, it is worthwhile. I am sure this wonderful post of yours, written from the heart will do likewise.

    • @Ladygoodwood
      I’m so honored that you chose to share your struggles here in response to my article. I agree that those who have and who do suffer daily as they meet their challenges and overcome them have a responsibility to share their experience, insights and wisdom with others. As you have said when we do share our strength and hope and encourage and support others, they learn how to turn their lives around by learning how take care of themselves.

      It’s shameful that we live in societies that still emphasize competition and dog eat dog attitudes and behaviors rather than collaboration and cooperation. Many of the sources of our stress stem from the capitalist and corporate agendas that have moved us so far away from community building. Those who do reach the top of the financial ladder have consumed and polluted continue to consume and pollute Earth’s resources at a horrific rate. They have stepped on many others to get where they are only to find they are not happy and healthy and have nothing to offer when it comes to compassion and caring, simply because the are not self-aware and conscious so they don’t know what really counts.

      Quoting Lynda Lehman:
      “All because our human societies do not promote rational limitations on what both governments and corporations can do. All because we look at the short-term gain instead of considering long term ramifications and a wider view of The Common Good… Because we’ve gone to the moon but haven’t been able to legislate rational limits to the destructive forces unleashed by habits of Consumerism and its untidy extremes: greed and entitlement.” From: Notes on the fragility of life

      Only those of us who are self aware, “awake” and “conscious” can turn the world around, and I am encouraged to witness how the rise in consciousness the world over unites us so we can become better human beings.

  21. TiTi, great writing! full of information and many helpful tips! I especially like “happiness is a choice”. I am happen to be one who put others over my own, and it takes my life time to learn how to take care myself! Will be back for more read.

    • @Yun Yi
      Thanks for the positive feedback on my article. It took me awhile to wake up to the fact that if I did not take care of myself I didn’t have much to offer to those who were near and dear to me. Once that reality check took place I became focused on reexamining my core values, replacing them where required, learning how to love myself, learning how to make the happiness choice minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and expressing gratitude without constraint. The combination led me to becoming a better person, one who could love both herself and others unconditionally.

  22. T.T., this is an open and powerful post. I don’t think you’ve overlooked many possibilities, in your list of the things you do to take care of yourself.

    I try to do all the things you mentioned, starting with living my core values and moving off from negative people. Life is too short to have your energy drained by miserable souls who don’t mind taking more than their fair share of time and attention with their self-centered-ness.

    Following the path of my creativity gives me a lot of joy and lifts me up, every day. The drive to do it is so strong that it pushes down the doubts and self-doubts that arise.

    I think the BIGGEST challenge for me is to eat right, and deal with my carb and sugar cravings.

    Also, it’s a challenge to stay mentally positive after having had breast cancer and seeing friends die of it. And with many aches and pains setting in to my joints, and terrible cluster migraines, there are days when I can’t see past it. But I keep on keeping on. As you have reminded us, mindfulness and gratitude are essential.

    I’m sorry to hear that your pain is so extreme and pervasive. Do you use any anti-inflammatory supplements?

    • @Lynda,
      Following your path of creativity (Abstract Expressionist Paintings, Nature Photography, Digital Art, Poetry, and Musings on Life and Our Connection to Earth) not only lifts you up, it also lifts your readers up as well.

      I can also identify with what you say about staying positively focused when witnessing your friends dying of breast cancer as I too have won my battle with cancer. And, I suffer with cluster migraines and joint swelling and pain as well.

      The bottom line is taking responsibility for our own health – emotional, psychological and physical, and finding ways to cope, reduce stress and sharing what we learn with others along the way is key to empowering ourselves to rise above our circumstances and still lead a high quality life. To accomplish that I find I need to monitor my attitude, acknowledge the the self talk within and lead a conscious lifestyle based on maintaining a positive attitude rooted in mindfulness and gratitude.

      As for anti-inflammatory supplements I have been down that route and found that they were not effective. Making changes to my diet and to the minerals and vitamins I take was and is effective.

  23. Timethief, thank you so much for sharing how you deal with your challenges. The techniques you have shared are virtually universal in their application and we can all benefit from them no matter what our personal challenges.

    Aloha and Mahalo nui

  24. Hello timethief. I try and leave two comments a day minimum and while looking for some new blogs to comment on I came across yours. I just want to say I appreciate the spirit of your words and I wish you all the very best in your life journey. I suffered two severe depressions in recent years and then came to a place in myself where I was profoundly aware of stillness. I find in the presence of stillness great peace and comfort and also wisdom has a chance to grow there too.

    • Hello Christopher,
      I have been to your blog and liked very much what I read there so I commented. Your three point approach How to Deal with Exhausion was right on. I will be back to read more when I can. Thanks so much for leaving this comment and for reminding me of stillpoint.

  25. timethief, Thank you for sharing so openly. I’m deeply inspired by how you have consciously transformed your life. I loved seeing your list of how you take care of yourself! Bravo!

    As you know, I am exploring many different ways to care for myself. One of my favorites is going to the warm pond, which is heated by volcanic undercurrents. It is a mix of ground water and sea water, which is rich in minerals that are absorbed as you soak. I always feel rejuvenated after being there; it is a magical place. When people arrive with heavy perfumes and fragrance, I have to leave the pond but that doesn’t happen too often.

    I’m glad that you spoke about stress. Since I started the Amygdala Retraining Program I’ve become more attuned to how strongly stress impacts chronic illness. I’ve more keenly observed my own stress tendencies and recommitted to reducing stress and practicing positivity and joy. At the same time, I also strive to accept myself when negative emotions arise too. These steps have made a huge difference for me.

    All the best to you.

    • Hello Sandra Lee,
      It’s always so good to hear from you and thank you for sharing too.

      I don’t have access to a mineral pool but I’m so glad that you do. Hot water is one of the most effective ways for me to deal with pain in my joints. I’m wondering if I added minerals to the water if that would be helpful. Normally I use only epsom salts or bubblebath. I’ve never heard of the Amygdala Retraining Program and that means I have some research and reading to do.

      Although I so aim to be positively focused, like you I also accept any negative emotions that arise within me. I find it’s important to acknowledge how I feel and just be with those feelings until they pass.

      At this point in this day I’m feeling very poorly so I’m going to take a bit of a break and go lay down for awhile. I hope you have a good day and send you my love.

  26. Hi. I’ve had chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and I’ve also had success healing these and similar conditions. I’ll write a post about this in the next few days and see if I can offer you some insight.

    This is a cool post, and I’m happy I followed a tweeted link.

    If you leave your name, or anyone’s name who you think will benefit from distant healing in a comment on my blog I’ll send healing when I meditate. I’ve had a lot of success with this.

    Take care, Simon.

  27. Great post! I have an auto-immune disorder and this really resonated with me. Especially the parts about not getting help from your health care provider and limiting the exposure to negative media. I don’t think that people who don’t have a chronic illness can totally appreciate what it is like. The advice of “Just get another doctor” is not as easy as it sounds.

    Besides reading and exercise, I find that social networking on sites like Twitter and Fried Eggs and writing my blog help keep me engaged and connecting with people. That really helps keep me up. I generally do not talk about my health issues there, so it is a nice escape for me.

    • Hello Glinda,
      It’s good to meet you. I believe there are many with auto-immune diseases and chronic conditions who don’t let on they have them for the same reasons we don’t. We cope as best we can with as little or as much support as we can find. Like you I don’t believe it’s possible for anyone who doesn’t live with chronic conditions, or who doesn’t live with someone who is in their grips to truly appreciate what it’s like to be so limited and also in pain.

      Here’s an example. I woke up in such bad shape mobility wise I could barely get to the washroom. I got there by taking one step at a time while holding onto pieces of furniture and breathing deeply to combat the pain that made my head spin. Today the bones in my neck are out of place. I have soaked in a very hot tub and used massage oil. I will slowly work on them until they move and I get some relief from the crashing headache the misalignment is giving rise to. As I’m typing this I’m experiencing nausea and feeling a strong need to lay down so I think I may do that after I answer these comments.

      Best wishes to you and thanks so much for commenting. Please feel free to connect with me at http://friedeggs.com/timethief I don’t post frequently but it is the place where I like to relax and get to know fellow bloggers.

    • What do I do to take care of myself? I resigned, effective August 31. I had been working too hard while studying at the same time. I accepted a position at an institution that promised me a scholarship, and even though I love the institution…the arrangement nearly killed me. Literally. I am quite young but I have ailments that only people in their 40s experience. First on my agenda after the resignation kicks in: have a thorough check-up and assess the damage to my physical well-being.

      I also read one of your older posts about women’s issues (and women taking up leadership roles). I realized that we tend to pick up after our superiors, especially if they’re male. I do not wish to generalize but straight Filipino men are not very attentive to details and it’s the women who take care of these. Only the women can understand the stress I went through.

      I love my boss in the way a subordinate respects her superior, but I had to tell him that the job took its toll. It’s time to concentrate on ME. I’ve been taking lots of time off now, before I finally take my leave. At least that part he understood completely.

      • @skysensi,
        I’m sorry I didn’t reply earlier to your comment. I normally reply immediately but this time I couldn’t. I’m so glad you set your freedom date. Unless we are mentally healthy and emotionally well we cannot cope with the physical issues and actually have a life worth living. Yes it’s time to concentrate on you because if you don’t do that you cannot make a positive contribution to anyone else’s life. Best wishes to you and thanks so much for sharing this with me and my readers too.

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