For ten years I suffered with an unknown illness, I knew I was sick but it is harder to convince others or receive the right help if your symptoms do not directly point towards the obvious. I was told that I was suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome; this syndrome is so vast that health professionals were unable to put their finger on what was wrong and therefore unable to treat it directly.
What troubled me was that I knew I was sick and felt that I was not being taken seriously. In 2007 I finally received my diagnosis, I had an obstructed Kidney that was attached to my liver, this was a birth defect and the root of my pain. Having gone through this process I feel that I have developed a good understanding of panic and anxiety, being ill on a regular and highly painful basis, took me on a journey of various emotions, negative and positive.
To do this I needed to take control and make some changes to give myself the best chance, below are some of the ways that I helped cope when I was living in this vicious cycle:
1. No more Caffeine! Say goodbye to Tea and Coffee, these warm drinks are no good for stressed out souls. Dizziness; irritability; nausea and nervousness are all listed side effects from Caffeine intake. If you are going through a period of trepidation you do not need these unnecessary triggers.You may experience slight headaches as part of the withdrawal process but the aftermath will be well worth it.
2. Stub out those habits. Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs? These stimulants are not your friend. When anxiety levels are creeping up, you may instinctively turn to these guys.Stopping smoking can be particularly tiresome but on the flipside it will be a fantastic achievement.Strangely enough, the day the doctors told me what was wrong I started smoking again, this is something I hope to tackle again soon.
3. Start moving! Getting your body moving will help diminish that black cloud. Whack on some music and give it some in the kitchen, this kind of release is great for the body, mind and soul. Dance, sing and you may find yourself laughing, who knows! I was usually unwell for a period or 3 to 5 days, during this time moving around was not an option! However, on days when my body was being kind to me, getting energised was a great up lifter.
4. A balanced lifestyle Creating a solid routine will help maintain a better emotional balance. A balanced, regular diet is extremely important. Make sure you are eating regular meals at regular times; try to spread out what you are eating evenly throughout the week. Eating an overpowering carbohydrate based diet, will zap away your energy. Sometimes I would enforce too much control which resulted in little personal freedom.
5. Relax I am sure that everyone tells you to relax and it may come across as patronising! You are aware you need to do this, but are too stressed out to shut down. If your head is buzzing and sitting still, while attempting to switch off is actually making things more difficult. Then don’t!I tried so many relaxation techniques, yoga made me giggle and I couldn’t get into the meditation part of it. I was desperate to learn to meditate, but no amount of books or CD’s could help.
I tried different books with titles such as “How to Relax” but found a lot of these fruitless. Focusing and coping with my illness did not help, whereas concentrating on other things such as baking, knitting and reading did!