- Be patient with yourself and know that you probably won’t get well overnight. It can take months and even years to experience some sense of normalcy again and some people never do, but they learn to adapt. Remember that life may never be the same again. Don’t be afraid to mourn your old life, but acclimatize yourself to the new, which may even include some changes for the better. In my case, I was relieved to finally get a diagnosis and thus an explanation for my uncontrolled weight gain and tiredness. It gave me hope that my condition could improve and that I might find relief for my symptoms. But in turn, I also realized that getting well is like peeling back the layers of an onion. Treatment is rarely simple and there are often accompanying conditions, so it is has been up to me to be my own medical detective and insist on the treatment I know I need and deserve.
- Look through each cloud to see the silver lining. No doubt about it, chronic illness is devastating, but I can honestly say that in some ways it has changed my life for the better. As a result of my diagnosis, I live a healthier lifestyle (workouts with my personal trainer), eat an even healthier (allergen-free) diet and I have made countless wonderful friends that remind me that I am never alone. What’s more I have learned SO much about my body and health in general, enabling me to not only help myself, but to help others by sharing my research with them through online forums and in particular my website Butterflies and Phoenixes.
- Doctors are our partners and can at best provide us with the tools, knowledge and support to get well, but never blindly trust in their words and always, always be your own advocate. You cannot solely rely on a doctor to get you well. If they talk down to you, patronize you or refuse to treat you with respect, don’t be afraid to kick them to the curb. After all, it is you who is paying them for a service!
- Each patient is different and there is no “magic pill”. For instance, whilst one may be helped by a certain treatment, another may find they experience no change in symptoms whatsoever. Likewise, don’t compare yourself to other patients. We all have our own battles to fight and can never truly walk in another’s shoes. Don’t feel bad because your symptoms sound less severe than someone else’s. This doesn’t make your suffering irrelevant.
- Make the most of each and every day. Some days we can live life to the fullest and the next day we may suffer a relapse or be bedbound. Cherish each moment.
- Don’t be discouraged by those who refuse to take your illness seriously. Sad but true: many people are ignorant and uneducated and there’s often a lack of awareness about many “invisible” illnesses (i.e. you are sick inside, but look “fine” on the outside).
- Never give up hope, take time to laugh and remain positive! You owe it to yourself to fight to get well.
by Sarah J. Downing, ThyroidChange Guest Writer and Creator of Butterflies and Phoenixes(http://sarahjdowning.com)