When the flare started, it was a jolt to my system both physically and mentally. How could I go from being in a pretty stable place to being stuck back at home, unable to read, exhausted and in pain? I had to remember how to get through sick days like these. I had done it before and needed to rely on my previous coping strategies.
This required me to re-adjust my routine. No I couldn't write a blog post with such eye pain, but there were other things that I could do to keep my mind somewhat active while resting. Instead of reading and writing, I caught up on my favorite podcasts or listened to a book as opposed to reading one. This helped me stay distracted some of the time. Whether listening to books, TV shows, or podcasts, I tried to stick to those that had some humor and comedy. When I feel rotten, smiling and laughing do not come easily. But when I do laugh, it can give me a momentary reprieve from the pain and discomfort. I can't tell you how many dumb jokes my husband tried on me during those weeks just to see a slight smile.
It's was also essential for me to keep making my daily to-do lists. Getting dressed deserves a check on the list (yes, even that is a chore when I'm having a flare) and so does napping. Those of us who get them know getting plenty of rest can be crucial for getting over a flare, but it still takes a lot of reminding for me to let myself sleep during the day. These lists can be more helpful for me during a flare than when my health is better. My flares are usually accompanied by some serious brain fog and it is more likely that i I forget to take my medicine if I don't write it down. Everything I get done during a flare takes extra effort so having a list helps me to recognize what I can and did accomplish at the end of the day. While it might sound a little silly, a check off on my to do list is my equivalent of giving myself a gold star. Maybe I should even design a gold star system for the next flare.
I tried to be diligent about writing in my gratitude journal (read more about gratitude journals here). Simply jotting down the good things in my life reminded me what is positive even when I am feeling crummy. It's not the easiest thing to do when you are ill, but every bit of positive energy that I can cultivate goes along way.
While I couldn't meet my friends out for fun activities, I still tried to so some easy socializing. I invited one or two close and compassionate friends to come by for brief visits. I let them know that I might need to cancel in advance so there was no pressure if I felt too sick. Their company buoyed my spirits, got me laughing, and helped me feel more connected to the outside world.
So that's the end of my flare talking for now! I am beyond thankful that this past flare ended, but I'll have these reminders for the next ugly one. What were your strategies for coping with your last flare? What types of things seem to help you the most? I hope I won't be re-reading the post for a while!