How to support someone with a chronic illness.

Life living with a chronic illness becomes easier when others around you support and understand you . Granted, people who do not have a chronic illness will never fully understand how we feel but with more education and information they can become more aware of what we go through and begin to help. Learning what you can do for someone who has a chronic illness can make a huge difference. I do have a lot of people message me who are dealing with a loved one who is chronically ill and asking how they can help them and what they can do – so these are my top six things you can do to help a loved one suffering:

1. Research research research!

It’s so important to research someone’s chronic illness so you know what they are dealing with. A great way to do this is obviously Google and there is so much information out there. It is also useful to reach out to the chronic illness community on social media and connect with others – instagram is a great place for that. You can see first hand how others deal with it and most pages inboxes are always open for advice. Do be careful with social media though as some pages can be negative.

2. Suggest but do not push!

It’s great for you to research things which can help them and to make suggestions. But do not push too much. My motto is ‘suggest, remind, prompt and then drop it’. Someone doesn’t want to be constanly told to try things if they are not ready or feel they can’t do.

3. Do not compare them to others!

If you know someone with the same chronic illness and see them doing certain things – don’t compare them! Please remember that everyone experiences their chronic illness differently and everyone exsperiences different symtoms. Someone can also suffer more severely than someone else.

4. Do not get mad if they cancel on you!

Be understanding. If they cancel on you, I bet you they did not want to and that they have been worrying all week about how you will react. Somebody’s chronic illness can flare up at any time and they can’t help it.

5. No name calling or suggesting they don’t look sick!

Don’t ever call someone lazy, a let down, useless or anything else negative. These words can destroy a persons self esteem leading to depression. Think before you speak. Also telling someone they do not look sick is basically telling them that you don’t believe them. A of chronic illnesses are invisible. Remember that.

6. Help, Support and reassure

Help them when you can. If that means housework, childcare or any other chore – just let them know that you are there to help or better yet; use your initiative and don’t leave a mess for them to clean up…you know who you are 🙂

Also, reassure your loved ones and let them know you support them in what ever they choose to do. If that means a new career or work pattern, or even if they have to stop working all together – support them no matter what. If they are starting a new treatment or routine, just let them know you support them and be enthusiastic! Always let them know that you recognize they are doing their best and you are proud of them.

When they are talking about them selfs negatively, turn that around and tell them all the positive things about themselves.

This all may not sound like much – but believe me, having a partner, friend or family member who has your back and shows it makes a massive massive difference. We are so harsh on ourselves and often forget to love ourselves – that’s when we need you the most.

Shout out to everybody who is supporting somebody with a chronic illness.

Fibromyalgia and Alcohol

This is a tricky one. Alcohol can flare up my fibromyalgia, but not drinking alcohol can seclude me socially. I think it’s such a shame that literally every social event revolves around alcohol. Theres always pressure to drink and if you’re choosing not to – people ask “oh why do you not drink?” like its some bizarre, unimaginable thing to do. I did not drink alcohol for years when I was on lots of medication, it’s only since I’ve been off of the meds that I can have a few drinks every now and then.

If I have more than a few glasses of wine I will have an awful hangover and it’s just not worth it at all, so a few drinks is enough for me. I am not a huge, regular drinker and you will never catch me doing shots in a club like I did 10 years ago but I do enjoy a few every now and then. I have had to learn my limits and listen to my body. I have also learnt it is ok to not get drunk like everyone else and I don’t need to in order to have a good time. Best of all – it’s great to wake up without a hangover. Most days I wake up not feeling too great so adding a hangover on top of that is just so unnecessary.

So to the question “Do I drink alcohol?” Yes I do but not often and only a few. Why? Because I enjoy a drink but not enough to have an awful hangover. Hangovers cause me to have extreme sickness and anxiety and I hate feeling that way, so when someone says ‘oh come on have another’ I must politely decline because it is really really really not worth it!

Food anxiety and going back to eating gluten.

Explaining anxiety is so hard. Unless you have experienced it, it is hard to understand. Anxiety can affect anyone for a number of reasons or for seemingly no reason at all. My anxiety is caused by my IBS, which I have because of fibromyalgia. I’m terrified it will flare up when I am out and that I’ll not be able to make it to the bathroom in time. Despite having my IBS under control and even though I rarely experience flare ups – as long as I avoid foods which I know aggravate it; my head still tells me to be scared and avoid certain situations. The result of this is that if I go out – I will basically starve myself because I am terrified of eating. This is something I need to work on. I am only comfortable eating at home and even going out to eat with my partner is a challenge.

Fibromyalgia is not just about pain, there are so many other symtoms we experience. We can suffer from IBS, sleep problems, irritated skin, anxiety, depression, fatigue…the list goes on.

That being said – I am so much better than I used to be. I have learned how to recognise the causes of my IBS and know to avoid these foods (fats, artificial foods, garlic, chilli, spices, marinades and sauces). I used to be convinced it was just gluten but I was still experiencing symptoms whilst being gluten free so I began to realize it was more tban just gluten. For three years I became obsessed with not eating gluten, my anxiety would sky rocket whenever I would buy food or go out to eat. So six months ago I decided to introduce gluten back into my diet. I was fine and to be honest it made me feel better. It was a relief to be able to eat normal bread again! I am now getting fibre back into my diet, which was lacking. Most gluten free products I found were packed full of sugar and I am saving so much money, as gluten free products are far more expensive. It was amazing to be able to eat gluten again and getting to eat all the foods I had missed.

With regards to my food anxieties – I have a lot of work to do. I think some exposure therapy is needed and I need to tell myself to simply not give a F*** if I get an IBS flare up as that is what toilets are for! I shouldn’t feel embarrassed about a thing. I shouldn’t care what people think. My CBT (conganative behavioural therapy) therapist told me that everyone goes to the toilet and people don’t actually care if you do. It is a normal human bodily function afterall 🙂

To anyone who suffers from food anxiety – I feel for you. I believe if I didn’t have IBS, I would not be an anxious person, but who knows why we get anxiety. So my goal is exposure therapy – I’m going to be eating out. I did a lot of this during my CBT therapy a few years back and it helped. If you have had CBT and feel yourself slipping back you need to remember what they told you and practice. I have let a few flare ups throw me back into major food anxiety and so I need to practice all of the techniques she taught me and obviously try not to pick food which I know will upset my stomach.

Obviously this is all easier said than done and my anxiety is so high at the moment, but i will try my hardest and take it one step at a time. I hope you’re with me 🙂

Follow my journey on my instagram  @girlwithfibro

Moving across the world with fibro

Hey 👋 so i have not wrote a blog in a long time life just got in the way and I got unmotivated. Now i am back to writing my blog and I have moved to Calfornia. Let’s say cali is a lot different from south east london. I moved here because my boyfriend got a job here ( lucky me). So currently im living in another country thinking what can i do? So I have decided to jump back into instagram, blogging and maybe i will start up a youtube channel.                                                                                                  So how is it living in California. With regards to my fibromyalgia the warm weather helps I have had less flare ups and the flare ups do not last as long. The sun is a big plus, sitting in the sun and getting that vitamin D is making me feel a lot more energeric. I am also more motivated with the fitness life style here there is a gym and pool where i live, which makes it so much easier to get motivated to exercise. Overall its a dream place to live, but there is so much i miss about home. Home is home where your family and friends all are, I miss just being able to see my family and friends when ever I want. The time difference is hard everyone back home will be in bed alsleep when im up. I miss the season changes, although they do cause me to flare up. My anxiety is still under control, but i am getting a lot more anxious, as I am in unfamiliar surroundings which was expected. I also miss nandos!!! and marks and spencers lol. But this is a new chapter in my life that most people would love to exsperience and I am very lucky to be in this position. So heres to new adventures and restarting blogging.