Wednesday, January 27, 2010

7 Tips For Living With Chronic Pain & Without Depression

Though I am new to this world of chronic pain, I am not new to bedrest and I am certainly not new to depression.

As recently as six months ago I started experiencing consistent joint pain which I attributed to being new at running and having bad technique. However, even after improving my technique, taking glucosamine and becoming a stronger runner, I was still having considerable joint pain. It was a mystery until seven weeks ago, I woke up with debilitating hip pain for which I immediately saw my doctor. Though we are still looking for the cause and the treatment of my hip pain, we have discovered, with the help of three wonderful doctors that I have Hypermobility Syndrome or possibly Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility (Type III).

I have now been on near bedrest for seven weeks and memories of months and months of pregnancy bedrest have come flooding back. I know that it is very easy to fall into depression when in pain, scared and bored out of your mind. Not only do you have to live with hurting all the time, now you have to fight to keep your mind free from the melancholy fog.

Here are my 7 Tips for fighting that depression when your days are (mostly) spent in bed.

1. When you wake up, make it a point to take care of your personal hygiene. If you can, shower everyday. If you can't, wash your face, comb your hair, brush your teeth and put on deodorant. You are already going to be going to the bathroom when you wake up so spend an extra five minutes to make your self feel better by looking better.

2. Drink water. Water has an amazing ability to flush your body of bad ju-ju so be sure to get plenty of it, especially in the morning when your body becomes naturally dehydrated overnight.

3. Open the curtains and a window. Daylight and fresh air are sure to put you in a better mood for the day. Even if it's cold out, the breeze will revitalize your system.

4. Straighten the bed. Push yourself a little more so that you can straighten your sheets and fluff your pillows. Trust me when I say, laying in a freshly made bed feels better emotionally than a tousled one.

5. Change your underwear. I know, common sense right? But if you are spending most of your days laying down, it may be easily forgotten. Again, it's about personal hygiene and it will make everyone feel better.

6. Set goals for yourself. I'm not talking about huge things that probably aren't going to get done while you are in pain, that's just setting yourself up for failure, I'm talking about little things like posting a blog, writing a letter to a friend or even completing this list. Today mine is to get caught up on homework. It's fine to have days when you do nothing but be sure to follow a day like that with a goal day. The feeling of accomplishment you get when it's completed will encourage you to keep going!

7. Stick to a routine. Even on your worst days, make yourself stick to these 7 things. If you do them everyday they are a sure fire way to help you get up and move. Routines help regulate your mind and don't allow you to shut yourself off from the world.

Some other things to help you get by are to write a blog or journal about your medical journey, take up a hobby and connect with a support network. All of these things will give you something to look forward to which will help you on your way.

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