Managing your mental health during physical illness
I've been riding a pretty vicious mental illness train for almost ten years now. During those ten years I have had some of the best days of my life to date, but I've also been on deaths door tackling my own brain. Mental illness is rough, so how do we manage our mental health when we are physically unwell or have a chronic illness. I am absolutely no where near an expert, but this is what I have found has worked for me...
Write things down
The brain fog we experience when mentally and/or physically unwell is real folks. I can't remember the amount of times I realised I had an appointment ten minutes before and had to rush there Speedy Gonzales style; or how many times I've arrived at my doctors' office and completely forgotten all the things I wanted to talk to them about; or how easy it is to forget about the good times when I'm in my darkest. I tried everything to rectify this, I bought diaries, stickers, sticky notes, set alarms throughout the day but nothing worked quite like I needed it to.
The Google Calendar on my phone has changed my life. I have my phone on me almost all of the time so for a few years now I write almost everything in my calendar and change the timing of the alarm before my appointment depending on how far away it is etc.
My Google Calendar has been amazing at helping me remember when I have things on but boy howdy has the humble notes app been incredible too. I have ongoing notes for all of my doctors, physios and psychs and whenever I think of a question or something I want to talk to them about I write it down. Literally whenever it pops up.
Find your inner circle
Knowing and understanding who the people are that I can trust the most has been so important in managing my mental and physical health. Take time to think about who you can tell certain things to, it is worth it.
Find a hobby that works with your illness
Sadly, it's not uncommon to lose the ability to do some of your hobbies through mental or physical illness. It has been so important for me to find things to replace hobbies I used to love but am unable to do. I really struggle reading because of brain fog, for example, so have been listening to books on the Audible app for a few years now and love it! Try some things out - I have been shocked by some of the things that I have turned out to love.
I'll be honest, the first time my psych recommended I try out journaling I absolutely hated the idea. I thought I just wasn't someone who could journal without feeling a bit silly. Boy was I wrong - within a year I had filled three large Moleskine note books with drawings, journal entries and bullet journal spreads. I actually used to use these journals instead of my notes app but ended up transitioning to my phone which I have found works better for me in that aspect. Journalling is a perfect way to get your thoughts out of your head, it helps me to "talk" things through without having to be with a friend. I cannot recommend journalling enough.
I'm still working on this one. I often feel like whatever is going on in my body is all in my head. But being honest and telling my doctors and providers any and all of my symptoms has actually helped us narrow in on specific diagnoses. And I have never been made to feel silly, if anything they have told me that I should have mentioned it sooner. Be your own advocate - you deserve it.
Seek professional help
Finding the right fit for a mental health provider can be a long and tiering task, but I can't even describe how relieving and helpful it is when you find the right fit. My recommendation would be to ask a doctor or friend who knows you well for some recommendations. They might be able to recommend someone who they think could fit you and your specific issues well.
Know your worth
You are worthy of help, love and good health. Trust me.