Anna Schultz-Girl Sitting On Bed Facing Wall

Get Well Soon!: Advice To The One Who’s Always Sick

“I’m tired.” “My head hurts.” “I can’t walk too far, my ankles are killing me.” “I can’t eat that.” If you’ve known me the past few years, you’ve probably heard at least one of these phrases uttered by me. I’m extremely lucky that I haven’t had any severe, life-threatening illnesses in my life. Yet, the past few years have been a journey of simply trying to be 100% well. I don’t write this for pity, but rather as a true statement of what I, and many others, live with daily. Existing in a body that feels like it never works properly is exhausting and can feel isolating. Therefore, I’m writing this for anyone else who may feel a little broken and alone. You’re not, I promise.

My journey started in my teens. When I was around 15, I started having chronic stomach issues and cyclical mental health issues that have continued to today. At 18, I was diagnosed with anorexia and my stomach issues worsened. At 19 I suffered a concussion, and sometimes still struggle with migraines related to that. Currently, I struggle with chronic pain that my doctor suspects is linked to hypermobility issues, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME). Living in another country where the health system is unfamiliar is the most difficult part. Trying to navigate a foreign health system and find new doctors is hard. Existing can be exhausting for anybody, even more so when your body is aching and your stomach doesn’t work properly and your brain hurts. But here’s the secret: 

It’s okay. And, you’re not alone.

 

  1. Find Your People

 In real life, these are those friends who stick by your side no matter what. They’re the ones who don’t mind when you’re in pain or a little foggy. They’ll love you no matter what. Be thankful for them. But finding your people can also extend to the internet. Following others in the “spoonie” community on Instagram has not only helped me find others with the same problems, but it has deepened my compassion for others who are going through similar and often worse situations.

 

  1. Find What You Need

Research your illness and find out if there are any supplies, foods, or exercises that can benefit you. I find it helpful to check out blogs and YouTube videos of people with my problems to find out more information on what can help me. By reading blogs, I’ve found specific knee and ankle braces that have helped keep my joints in place and relieve the pain. By watching vlogs of others who have CFS, I’ve learned tips on how to manage school with exhaustion. Doctors know all of the technical information, but advice from others who actually live with your condition can be helpful and cathartic. 

 

                                                       Anna Schultz-Girl Using Ipad In Bed Anna Schultz / Her Campus

 

  1. Take What Help Is Available

Related to my first point, finding support and friends is so helpful. But sometimes a little extra help can go a long way. If you find yourself struggling in school, Concordia’s Access Centre for Students With Disabilities provides a myriad of accommodations for students with a documented condition. Google can help connect you to support groups in your area, or even online. I joined a concussion support group in Montreal, and just simply meeting with others who were recovering from the same injury as me helped me feel not so alone. 

 

  1. Talk About It

For the longest time, I rarely spoke about my health problems, and never my mental health issues. It wasn’t until I couldn’t sleep due to my legs being in such excruciating pain that I even mentioned my joint pain to my doctor. I thought it was easier to just “suck it up” and deal with it. I figured since other people have it worse, I didn’t deserve or need help. But that isn’t true. We have a right to discuss and raise awareness for what’s occurring in our bodies. Not only does this help others understand you, but it makes it easier for others to also speak about their conditions. It normalizes a dialogue that society usually silences. One of my favourite fashion bloggers recently opened up about her chronic migraines and food issues, and it made me feel so comforted that somebody I admired also struggled with something I did. 

 

Anna Schultz-Girls Talking On A Bed Anna Schultz / Her Campus

 

  1. Take What You Need

It’s easy to compare yourself to others. As humans, we do this so regularly that it seems natural. But when it comes to illnesses, I’ve learned that everybody is so different. Listening to your body and your doctor is what is most important. If you can’t get out of bed because you’re in pain and all you can do is watch Netflix, that is okay. Listening to what your body needs is so important. That’s true whether you’re sick or not.