Get Well Soon (A Letter To The One Who Is Always Sick)

I feel like I’ve been “sick” for like three years. And I’m not saying that for pity or anything like that – I really just want to write this post as one of those “hey, if you’re feeling this way, I understand you and I’m rooting for you” kind of deals.

My health journey is just that – a journey. I was definitely the kid when I was younger who got sick a lot. But maybe we all did as kids what with all the germs probably floating around the monkey bars and magic carpet. At age 8, I woke up at least once a month unable to breathe and would end up in the emergency room – croop. At age 9, I had had strep throat about 6 times in 8 months or something crazy like that – tonsils came out. Age 9/10, diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and began to take anti-anxiety medication. Age 14 – mono. Age 15 – mono, again. (Yup, this can happen.) Age 16 – developed chronic migraines. Age 19 – detoxed anxiety medications. Age 19-21: persistent stomach issues, didn’t get many concrete answers, but I think it had to do a bit with my anxiety and a bit with not eating right. And now at almost 22 – chronic sinus headaches, tension headaches, cluster headaches. Still visiting an allergist and chiropractor to attempt to figure out what’s happening.

I know it may seem like it from the paragraph above, but I promise this isn’t a “woe is me” post. Just want anyone who’s experienced any of the above to know I’ve been there. 

I’ve had many “sick days”. I’ve stayed in bed a lot. It can be so depressing to spend so much time “sick”. So much so that I remember when I was younger and I got sick, I wouldn’t sleep in my room. I’d move myself into the guest room until the sickness went away because I didn’t want myself associating my room – my safe space – with all the negativity that comes with being sick. The piles of tissues, the hours in bed…whatever it was, I just didn’t want it in there. When I think back to my junior year of high school (the year of chronic migraines) I just remember the blue walls of the guest room, the old mattress, the small TV that we purposely put in there because we’d rather have the larger one in the family room, and hours upon hours of Saved By The Bell with an icepack and a Coke.

I’m getting a little off track. I mainly what to talk about what helps me.

I think if I ever get a tattoo, it will probably say “this, too”. It’s something I repeat to myself – my little mantra. It’s short for “this too shall pass”. 

When I’m feeling really stuck in one situation, like now when I feel like I’ll never not have a headache, I think back to a previous time where I thought I would never get through – but I did. 

Even if it’s just a class you took freshman year that was so hard you were sure you’d fail, but you got through. Remember that. Call it to mind and sit with the feeling of triumph you had when you realized you did it. You beat it. And you were fine.

This too shall pass. 

I also try to recall anything and everything that has ever helped me or someone I know. A small example is that when I was younger and dealt with bad allergies, my mom had my sister and I sleep with a humidifier. I had totally forgotten about this little wonder machine until yesterday when my dad suggested I get one for my room to see if that helps. I don’t feel any different after having slept with it only one night, but it’s comforting to know that I have it and there’s a chance it could help me to feel better. It’s the little things.

I also like to take the opportunity of being unwell or sick to try new things. Things that could help me – the chiropractor, yoga, new essential oils blends. Or maybe just new activities I didn’t know I was interested in, but now that I have some down time I’d like to try. I’m writing more, I’m really freaking invested in The Fosters on Netflix (Maia Mitchell is my new girl crush), and I’ve gotten back into watercolors.

I do a lot of visualization, which was taught to me by a therapist I saw when I lived in Fayetteville. I remember coming to her before moving out at the end of the Spring semester. Not only was I moving out of my town home, but this was when I was transferring to Houston, so I wouldn’t be coming back to Arkansas in the fall. Which basically meant I had a ton of shit to haul 9 hours home, and it made me really anxious. Packing overwhelmed me, and I mentioned this to her. She told me to close my eyes and invision myself in my car, already headed back to Houston with my things neatly piled in the car. She had me invision what the road would look like, what sounds I’d hear like the car radio or a podcaster’s soothing voice. This really helped, and now I turn to this technique in many different situations.

Visualize a healthy you – this can really help motivate you to stay hopeful. Whenever I see this in my mind, I usually just see myself smiling. (And I’m usually with Cam or my family because they make me the happiest.) I have this one vision of myself when I’m a little older, standing in a refurbished kitchen that’s kinda modern farmhouse style and I’m cracking eggs into a pan. (This also aligns with my dream of having chickens, haha.)

The main thing is – there was a time before whatever you’re going through now. That’s your set point. Maybe there was a time you didn’t struggle so much with your seasonal depression, or maybe there was a time when you weren’t failing a class, or a time where you didn’t have migraines, or sinus infections, or mono….whatever is ailing you right now. Picture that. What was it like? What kinds of things did you do? Can you integrate any of that back into your life to give you a comforting feeling of normalcy?

For me, I just keep all my favorite things close. I won’t push away the things that make me happy just because my happy levels are a little off right now. I still wake up and write each morning. I still talk to Jesus. I still have dates with Cameron. I still enjoy laughing at funny memes on Twitter. I still go to work and school. And most importantly, I attempt to express gratitude for the things I am able to do each day, even if I’m a little slower and I usually complete tasks with a headache. At least I was able to sleep in a nice warm bed last night and wake up to a beautiful Christmas tree and listen to Michael Buble Christmas album while I did my morning devotional.

I am still here. I am still me. I am still happy. 

You are, too, friends. You just have to believe in yourself and your strength.

Get well soon any of you who aren’t 100% right now. I’m thinking about you!