12 things that helped me to smile despite the pain

Hi friends,

It’s been a little while. So much has been going on and I’ve been struggling.

We’ve just had an incredible heatwave in the UK and my body hasn’t been liking it, so I’ve seen an exacerbation of fibromyalgia symptoms.

I’ve been reeling from severe pain in my neck, back and shoulders in the last week. The pain plus heat made me delirious and woozy so I missed a few days’ work, but managed to make it into the office rest of the week (armed with Naproxen and my Quell pain device). The mother of all migraines has been dogging me; My skin has been blistering, and my sweat glands have gone a little crazier than usual.

Read more: 73 ways to live with fibromyalgia

Other than that I was mostly quiet in June/July because I went through a four week period of very little sleep. I mean, I have insomnia yes, but I wasn’t sleeping at all at night, when my anxiety levels heighten. I survived off cat naps in the day, and the lack of sleep made me even more jumpy and it was scariest thing ever- It was really affecting my mental health. I am glad to say that this has since improved, after I met a guy who suggested I open my mirrored closet doors. I instantly recognised this as feng shui and I’m not fussed about how this works; it just did.

Without the darkness we would never appreciate the light when we see it Click To Tweet

Things that helped my body and mind

My anxiety remains severe at the moment and my mood has been low. I rarely speak about this but my struggles with borderline personality disorder (BPD) continue and lately that’s meant a lot of self-doubt, low self confidence, thinking people hate me (even if I’ve given them no reason to), thinking I’m not good enough even when I’ve done my best etc).

Read more: My battle with borderline personality disorder

Despite all this, it dawned on me that I’ve been carrying on. Yes by just doing the bare minimum, but I’ve been able to stop and acknowledge the things I am thankful for. I have been able to smile, genuinely even when in pain.

It’s definitely an improvement and I’ve been thinking about what’s been helping my overall wellbeing. Here are some of the things:

1.   Love and gratitude. I’m hardly perfect but every day I try to make my life about love and sharing that. I slip up but the intention helps. This has in turn made me more thankful for all things, big and small. It feels like a inner purification of sorts. Honestly.

2.   An extension of the above has been paying close attention to my interactions with people, even strangers. A smile there, a helping hand here. It’s made a real difference.

3 .  Focusing on myself as a whole – physical and mental health. Juicing, healthy eating (fresh, less processed foods), vitamins, medication, whatever exercise I can manage, healthy relationships…

Read more: How to live a fulfilling life with chronic pain

4.   Work has been a very positive, stabilising thing for me. Actually work feels like the only thing that’s been steady for me with all the uncertainty in my life (and stability is critical for people with BPD). I realise this has a lot to do with the fact that I work in a space that feels safe, where I’m supported by an amazing, empathetic team and managers, who placed great considerations on my physical and mental health needs. I’m so, so thankful. And I cannot overstate the impact of working in a healthy environment for people living with chronic health problems (more on this in another post).

Read more: Dare to dream

5.   Keeping my basic routines – mindfully cooking on Sundays, cleaning and food shopping on certain days.

Read more: Laughter for pain

6.   Allowing myself to laugh even when I don’t want to or I feel awful

7.   Allowing myself time to be upset when I need to be. This has been important because living with BPD means I overthink and often feel guilty or bad for how I feel. I allow myself to feel upset, I acknowledge it, find a solution, have a nap or go away, or whatever is appropriate for the situation, then I close it, and it frees up space for me to be things other than upset.

8.   Acknowledging my pain (not dwelling on it), so I can better deal with it

9.   Spending time with mates: surrounding myself with people who are fun, have empathy, are positive and practical

10.  Sharing stories and experiences. This has such healing power and never fails to amaze me

11.   Being kind to myself daily – whether it’s taking time to carry out my skin regime, have a long shower, watch a TV show, cook something I like or have a nap when I know I have a thousand other things to do

12.   Getting a fresh perspective. Talking to the charity Victim Support, to someone who didn’t know me personally was helpful. I got practical, objective advice and realised I’d been too hard on myself.

I feel very thankful and I recognise that without the darkness we would never appreciate the light when we see it. So the pain, the struggles, the anxiety, depression, all of it isn’t easy.  I always say pain changes you. I am not the person I was yesterday, and tomorrow I will not be the person I am today. It’s moulding me into a better, stronger me.

What works for you?

Gentle hugs 🙂 x

Slide image by Aleksandr Ledogorov
Cover image by Kien Do

Need inspiration? Read these inspiring stories of people overcoming life with chronic health problems:

Sheryl’s search for meaning: life in pain and hope

Healing my body and turning my illness into something positive

Faith, trust and pixie dust

‘How two key decisions turned my life around’

I can face today

2 Replies to “12 things that helped me to smile despite the pain”

  1. I’m so sorry to hear that you have been struggling, but it sounds as if you have been taking good care of yourself. I love your list of things that help, and I have found that many of them are a great help to me as well. I, too have been struggling with headaches, pain in my feet that have made it difficult to walk at times, insomnia, dizziness, sadness, and on and on. I ended up in hospital for observation because of the dizziness and rapid heartbeat but only had to stay one night. Things are better now. I am learning to enjoy naps and am doing more to take care of myself without feeling guilty about it. I’ll be thinking of you. Take care! Deb

    1. Oh my dearest Deb- I’m sorry to hear you’ve not been too well. Did the doctors find anything when you stayed over in hospital? Hope it’s nothing serious. It’s such a bad cycle with these symptoms isn’t it? I’m glad you found something that works too and are looking after yourself. Be kind to yourself dear friend. I’m so glad to hear from you. Keep strong. Alisha xx❤️

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