Tips for dealing with Brain Fog Days


A lot of us with thyroid disease and chronic illness get the dreaded Brain Fog days. Where you can’t think as well as you know you should, and you have problems remembering things. Dealing with this mental fog and trying to make sure things that are important are not forgotten, is a constant battle for some of us. If you are one of those people like me who have this hit suddenly and without warning and live in fear of forgetting important things, you are welcome to borrow some of the things I do to combat this.

  1. Sticky Notes. I have sticky notes everywhere. In my purse, in my car, on my desk at home. When someone gives me information I need to remember, I first write it on a sticky note. Writing things down sometimes gives me an edge in remembering. If it’s something I need to remember for a few minutes, then that is sufficient usually to help keep it in my brain long enough to act on it. If not, I go to the next step.
  2. Transcribe what’s on my sticky note onto my notes folder on my computer. I keep a notes file open on my computer that I can add to. Things I need to remember. Schedules of medications if I have new ones temporarily added to the mix, or remembering what I have planned for meals on a certain night, that sort of thing. When I’m done with that info, I go and erase it.
  3. I also keep a file with a copy of all recent labs I’ve had done, my medications and dosages at the time and any new symptoms and when they have started. This helps me keep track of how I am doing physically and mentally and track whether my thyroid levels or other things are going off kilter for me. Sometimes without this I can’t tell that I’m doing worse or a lot better if I don’t keep track of things.
  4. Along with this, I keep a food diary.When I’m having allergic issues, digestive issues, headaches, and the like, I keep track of what I eat and drink, plus notes each day with times when I can of  any problems I have. This helps me keep track of whether or not foods are affecting my health in a negative or positive way. When I have a lot of brain fog days, if I doctor would ask me about this, I am glad to have it documented so I don’t have to try to remember complex things.
  5. My smart phone. I have like most people a Calendar app on my smart phone. All appointments go into that phone. Addresses of people I am meeting, contact information, dates, times, and anything to help me up to and including what a person looks like. This is for days my brain fog is really bad. I recommend downloading or backing up this at least once a week or every other week in case something happens to your phone, so you can keep on track.
  6. Check boxes. Keep a list with check boxes next to all  your medications or routines that you  need to do. Check each task off after they are done so you do not forget important tasks each day.
  7. Extra rest. Give yourself extra times to rest, or take breaks during the day. Your brain is not working as well and is going to tire you out more, making mistakes even easier to do. Give yourself time for a nap, a few minutes doing something restful to give your brain a break.
  8. Forgiveness. When you are having a bad memory day, when things are in a fog, try to forgive yourself if you forget something. You are struggling against something real and even all of your preventative measures to combat it can fall short, so forgive yourself if you can’t do everything on those days and miss things.

Try to keep yourself positive during these times of less than perfect thinking because they will pass. Put in the comments ideas that you use to combat brain fog days.

Follow Britney on twitter @BttrflyBritney or see her on http://www.WarriorButterflies.com

“What did you say?” CAPD and the Thyroid

For most of my life I’ve had some issues with understanding the spoken word. I always made sure to sit in front of the class in school, and I got pretty good at lip reading. I had my hearing tested at school several times and it always came back that I had perfect hearing. You sit me in a sound proof box and send tones to me, I can hear them all day without a problem. However, you put me in a crowded or noisy environment and I may not recognize my name being spoken. I knew something was wrong, and finally a few years ago I found out what it was.

I have something called Central Auditory Processing Disorder or CAPD. In my case Adult CAPD. CAPD is basically an umbrella term for a variety of disorders that affect the way the brain processes auditory information. Put in simpler terms, my ears themselves work fine, they bring sound to my brain just like they are supposed to. Once they reach the brain, my brain doesn’t always interpret the sounds they hear very well.

I will give you an example of how my world works. Say you are in a room and several people are having a conversation around you. Someone is trying to speak to you. They say something and you know that they are speaking clearly to you, but for some reason your brain refuses to make sense out of what they are saying. A funny example was this past Christmas. I was at my mother’s house, and I heard my sister come in. What my brain thought she said (she was out of my eye sight) was “Hey, I’m a naked chick”. What she actually said (to my relief) was “Hey I’m making chicken tomorrow”. This is the world in which I live and this sort of thing happens to me quite frequently.

I found a really good Audiologist about three years ago. A friend suggested that after I passed yet another standard hearing test with flying colors that maybe it’s not my ears that were the problem but my brain. They had been diagnosed with CAPD as a child and had outgrown it, so they were familiar with the issues I had been having. I had to look far and wide to find an Audiologist who even knew about this disorder and could test for it. I found this Audiologist who had been trained and was a specialists in CAPD and not only that was able to test me as an adult. I went in for a series of tests to find out if this was indeed the cause of mis-hearing every other word.

The testing for CAPD is different from standard hearing tests. They start out with that to find out if you also have hearing loss, I apparently do not. Then they move on with you in the that same soundproof room with a set of headphones on. One ear will get no sound, and the other will get an increasingly complex serious of sentences that you will have to identify. This helps them determine which side is having the problems and to what degree. From the way it was explained to me, your ears take in sound from the left and right side, and then your brain is the referee who figures out meaning based on what both sides heard. Then it processes the sound and gives you the meaning. If both sides give you accurate information, most normal people get the information they hear correct about 90% of the time, so even normal people occasionally mis-hear something occasionally. What is a problem is when your hearing comprehension drops to lower than this. After running the tests we found that my left side processes information accurately about 50% of the time and my right side about 70%. Both of these are well below normal. When you have one side getting it wrong half the time and the other side getting it wrong  roughly 1/4 of the time, it makes it hard for your brain to reconcile the discrepancies. Thus you get the “I’m a naked chick” scenarios going through your brain.

As I said before I found a really good Audiologist. He put me into a test group where they did several brain training sessions with me. I had exercises to strengthen each sides brain comprehension, I had sessions in the sound proof box where they had me go over various verbal sentences to try to increase my comprehension. At the end of six weeks they tested me again. My left side went up to 70% and my right side to 80%. Still not normal levels, but so much better than they ever were. The Audiologist had told me that some people who have gone thru the test group actually regained almost all normal hearing comprehension, but for me, gaining like that helped so much. What also helped was being aware of my issue, and starting to tell people around me about the problem I dealt with.

Here we get to the thyroid connection. Since I have Graves’ disease, he had this theory that possibly my thyroid hormones could be playing a role in my hearing comprehension. So every time I went in for a thyroid blood test, he would also test my CAPD that same week. Then I would give him my levels to correlate if at all to my hearing comprehension. During a two year period, my thyroid levels went from hypothyroid to euthyroid (normal levels) over to hyperthyroid. What we found was really interesting. When my thyroid levels were in the hyperthyroid ranges, my hearing comprehension was almost 90% on each side. When the levels dropped to normal. I went back down to what I had gained from the test group. When I was hypothyroid, my levels dropped almost to where I was before the gain I received from the test group. There was a definitely correlation at least for me! He’s still looking for people in our area last I heard to try to find out if others have this same issue. The theory he has is that since the thyroid also controls some brain functions, when it is hyper and floods the body and brain it is also speeding up the area that processes information, which is why my hearing comprehension is better.

These days, I now have another symptoms to watch for to see if my thyroid levels have changed. Am I hearing about the same or a lot better, then maybe I’m heading towards hyper, if it’s getting worse, maybe my levels are going down. So far keeping track myself, I still am showing the same issues as his tests showed. Hypo and normal, not so great comprehension. The year I went borderline hyperthyroid, I didn’t have any issues understanding people.

If you want to understand more about CAPD, I highly recommend this article by Judith Paton “Living and Working with a Central Auditory Processing Disorder”, it was one of the first things I read when I was trying to figure out why I couldn’t understand people and kept hearing the most ridiculous things that I knew couldn’t be what people said.

Check out Britney over at http://www.WarriorButterflies.com

Stronger together


One really positive thing about being on the internet and having thyroid disease is being able to compare and contrast your experience with other people. There are so many support groups out there with literally thousands of people sharing their experiences. There is also blogs, articles and information all over the place. While some of this information doesn’t apply to everyone, what it does do, is allow a person to start to see patterns.

When you start talking to other people from other places, you can see whether or not a particular issue that you are dealing with is common with other people. You can help yourself figure out if that crazy thought you are having is something you alone are thinking or if fifty others are also having crazy thoughts. You can find out options that other people have tried. You can find out the good, the bad and the ugly of treatment options out there.

You still have to put on  your critical thinking hats to deal with the information, like you do with anything on the internet. Don’t let yourself fall for lose weight quick, or those “heal your thyroid” miracle sounding cures on the internet. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A little skepticism is a good thing. Mind you, do not close your mind off to everything, but make sure anything you hear you confirm with multiple reputable sources before you try anything you have read about. While there is a lot of good information out there, there is also people waiting to prey on those of us with chronic illness, and we can find things that will actively hurt us in the guise of helping.

If you are open to it, start doing your own research on your thyroid condition. Talk to people online. Join a thyroid support group and start reading what other people are experiencing. This is something that has helped me immensely over the last few years. I have been in several thyroid support groups over the years, and I started seeing recurring topics show up. Topics that you never see in articles online or hear about from your doctor. This enabled me to do some more research and find things that doctors do not seem to be aware of. The reason, for this I feel, is that  doctors know about what they have learned in medical school, they may see a dozen or so thyroid patients in their lifetime or a few more, so patterns of other things do not show up in those situations. If you are online with a thyroid support group, depending on the size you get a much larger sample of people coming together. People will also talk about their entire lives on support groups, not just things they think of as thyroid related issues. When you hear about people talking about obsessive thoughts for instance, or problems with their menstrual cycles and those people number in the hundreds, you start to think just maybe there is a connection. Maybe people with thyroid issues deal with much more than the medical profession knows about, and maybe the thyroid causes much more than just the issues that are mentioned commonly.

Some of the common topics I hear about on thyroid support boards including the following:

  1. Obsessive thoughts. A lot of people are finding they are struggling with obsessive thoughts, either dark and negative or just ultra focused on some strange thing in their lives. OCD behaviors also start hitting people, especially people who are hypothyroid.
  2. Anxiety in general. Having a chronic health issues like thyroid disease makes people feel more vulnerable and worry more about how to deal with things in their lives.
  3. For women, menstrual cycle issues. So many woman have reported extra long and heavy periods, or no periods at all, or spotty periods. More PMS symptoms and more issues with fatigue than normal around their menstrual cycle.
  4. For men, loss of sex drive and fatigue and stamina issues. Many men on the thyroid boards report they feel like they are much older  than they actually area. Some of them are finding they are having low T issues as well.
  5. Sudden sensitivities to foods. A lot of people seem to be finding that since their thyroid diagnosis they cannot tolerate certain foods. They have new food allergies, or foods they ate for years suddenly give them gastric distress or make them feel ill when they eat them.
  6.  General lack of energy. Even when thyroid levels are more normalized with medications, people report that they just don’t have the same energy they did before thyroid disorder. Doctors will tell them that their thyroid levels are normal so deal with it. When they get further testing on vitamins and minerals they find that they are…
  7. Low on necessary vitamins and minerals.I blogged about low Vitamin D recently, and that’s one of the big ones that people become deficient after developing thyroid disorder. People who get their vitamins and minerals tested also have reported low calcium, magnesium and other issues. Being low in nutrients can make a person not feel at their best. If you look at all the stories from people online there seems to be a connection between thyroid issues and other deficiencies in the body.
  8. Catching every virus that comes around. A lot of people report more illness in general since their thyroid diagnosis. People who never or rarely got sick will catch every cold and bug that goes around. When they do get ill, they can’t seem to get over it as fast. Something that they might have gotten over in a few days will drag on to a week or two sometimes. I frequently see this topic going around, especially in the fall and winter months.
  9. Feelings of isolation. Having thyroid disease can be very isolating for people. A lot of people can mentally deal with the idea of an illness you have and then get over. Thyroid disease does not go away. It stays with you forever, and can affect you at any time. Sometimes people with thyroid disease will lose friends and family who just cannot deal with their constant health issues. So a person is abandoned at a time they need support the most.
  10. Finding a thyroid support group online can help. Finding the right support group online is generally reported as a positive thing by most thyroid patients. There are many out there with different objectives and personalities, so just about anyone can find one that is helpful. People report when they can share their experiences online with others, they don’t feel so alone. They can talk about feelings that have bothered them and have them validated by others who have been there. They don’t have to feel like that are a freak or a crazy person, and they can find more possible solutions than any one doctor will ever be able to tell them about. The more people who band together, the more information and support will be available for all.

What I have found is that people working together can produce remarkable results. Share your thyroid experiences with others, so they also feel empowered. Share your information you learn so people can go to their doctors more educated and confident. The more of us who work together, the better things will be for all thyroid patients. Together we are stronger!

See Britney at http://www.warriorbutterflies.com or come join her at her Thyroid Tribe closed FaceBook group.

My Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite things!

When I have a really stressful time and my health isn’t at it’s best, I try to cheer myself up. I keep a list of favorite things I can look at and/or do to boost my spirits. Keeping yourself in a positive frame of mind can help you manage chronic health issues. Anything I can do to lift my spirits goes on the list. So here are MY favorite things (feel free to comment and add your own at the bottom).

1. Animals! I am a cat person. I love all kinds of cats. From small kittens to big Cats. I have three cats at home. All rescues and all ornery and cute at the same time. My Max is the oldest at 11 1/2  years old. He is a 14 pound orange and white short hair cat with a HUGE attitude. He rules the house, or so he thinks. Then we have Princess who I got a few months after Max, she’s only a month or so younger than he is. She’s my Perma-kitten, permanently 4 1/2 pounds, orange and white long hair and pretty much all hair and attitude as well. Then our relative newcomer Selena. A small dark brown/black furred short haired cat who wandered into my in-laws yard and then into our lives. I am also an August baby and I also love our symbol the Lion. I have tons of lion pictures and stuffed animals around the house. I love to watch nature shows with the lionesses protecting their cubs or hunting down prey.
Cats aren’t my only love even if they are at the top though; pretty puppies, baby hedgehogs, and even domesticated rats are on my cute animal list. I can spend hours watching funny animal videos online to cheer myself up.

2. Music! Another favorite thing that can cheer me up is listening to music. I have fairly eclectic tastes (read:weird!) along with popular music that I like as well. Music can help change my mood in an instant. Feeling angry, pop in some heavy metal or music with a heavy beat and let me holler along with the music, sitting in my car or at home. Instant stress relief! If I’m sad, I can put on something peppy and dance around in a silly way, or I can put on something that fits my mood and cry it out. Music can always help me feel better. It’s good to find those songs that will uplift you, change your mood, or even give you something new to think about.

I first got into my love of music as a young girl. I played the violin from 4th grade in elementary school on through my first year of college. Learning to play an instrument opened up my mind to the beauty that is out there in the realm of music and gave me the discipline that I later used to deal with my chronic illness.

3. Books! I am an avid reader. I devour books when things are busy at about three a week. If I have an entire week to read with no interruptions, I’m usually good for 7 or 8 300 plus paged books. I like to read about information about my thyroid condition, but reading to escape or to make me think is even better. My favorite books to read for fun tend to be fantasy/sci-fi type fiction. Preferably ones with a strong female lead and if they have dynamic involved worlds that draw corollaries to our world, even better. I am still old fashioned enough to love the feel of real paper in my hands while I read. I have some e-books,but I am happiest if I can get a new book from the bookstore and spend a few hours holding the paper in my hands and reading it.

4. Fairies! Or as I like to spell it faeries! I have been obsessed with faerie creatures since I was a young woman. One of my nicknames online is based on my love of faeries, the Red Faery. I am not into the Tinkerbell type, but rather the mischievous, devious, beautiful faeries that are both beautiful and dangerous to mortals in the old stories. I’ve been a big fan of myths and legends of old, the Celtic Faerie tales are some of my  favorites.

5. White Sandy Beaches! When I was less than a year old my parents moved us to New Orleans, LA. Though we only lived there for a year or so, I think that is when I first got my love of being on a beach. We moved back to northern Indiana and I spent much of my childhood not far from Lake Michigan. Spending summers on the dunes, playing in the sand are some of my happiest memories. These days, we make sure to go down to the Gulf Coast area every couple of years to spend a few days digging our toes into the warm sand and soaking in a little sun (with sunscreen of course).

6.Finding the funny online! I have several websites that I bookmark that make me giggle and some that make me always laugh so hard I have to reach for my asthma inhaler! Some of my favorite websites to cheer myself up are(beware some are not so safe for work at times):
http://www.damnyouautocorrect.com
icanhas.cheezburger.com/
http://www.youtube.com/user/zefrank1 His True Facts about… are guaranteed to make me smile

7. Helping others! It’s really true. I love to help others. My first degree in college was in Financial Counseling and Planning. My thoughts were to help people figure out their finances to reduce their stress levels. Unfortunately it didn’t help my own stress levels to be in this career! I switched to IT, computers and that was closer to what I wanted to do. There is nothing like figuring out a computer issue that is making someone frustrating and wanting to cry and throw things and turn it into a positive learning experience. To see the relief on someone’s face when the problem is fixed and they can go back to using their computer again.  I still enjoy helping people in those ways. These days I spend a lot of time helping other thyroid patients online and sometimes in person. It makes me glad to be able to use my experience and knowledge to comfort someone else, or help someone start on their own path to finding out more ways they can make their lives better. Thank you for coming along on this journey with me! Share your favorite things in the comments please.

Visit one of Britney’s favorite website she helps run at http://www.Warriorbutterflies.com

Photo Credits:

http://www.123rf.com/photo_18498164_orange-kitten-sitting-isolated-on-white-background.html
images.clipartpanda.com/colorful-music-notes-clipart-royalty-free-music-note-clipart-illustration-67922.jpg
thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/open-vintage-book-blank-pages-26566059.jpg
upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/Johann_Heinrich_F%C3%BCssli_058.jpg
http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/underwire/images/2007/05/05/icanhascheezburger.jpg

Breaking out of the Caretaker Mold


Taking care of others at the expense of our own health. Does this sound familiar to any of you? Having spoken to literally a few thousand people who have been diagnosed with thyroid disease of various kinds, I have noticed a trend. A whole lot of us are the type who have spent our lives taking care of others, pleasing others, and at the same time neglecting ourselves. This and a highly stressful and/or traumatic event is what happens to a lot of us before our diagnosis. I happen to think that just maybe all of the stress we put on ourselves trying to help others in our lives, allows us to put our own health on the back burner until a breaking point. Something very stressful happens to us and we are pushed beyond our limits. Our poor minds and bodies literally can’t take anymore of what we’ve put it through and something gives. If our immune system and/or our thyroid is the weakest link at this point, then that is what gives.

Obviously this is just my own personal theory, but I have seen this played out many, many times. Ask ten people if they took good care of themselves before their thyroid diagnosis. Ask them if after neglecting themselves for others in their lives,they then had something exceptionally stressful happen and then ended up with a thyroid health issue and/or autoimmune such as Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s disease. I know one of the positive things about my Graves’ disease diagnosis was being forced to finally take a good look at my own life and start paying attention to what I needed. I was the one who tried to help everyone around me. Friends that needed places to crash for indefinite time periods, family that needed an ear to listen to even when I personally was exhausted, work that needed me to do just one more extra thing when I had nothing left in the tank. I made sure the people around me were better taken care of then I was for a long time. Add to that putting myself through college, and working. Then finishing college and going to work for a high stressful stockbroker job at the height of the tech boom and then tech bust, followed by a Grandparent passing away. All of this going on while I didn’t sleep adequately, didn’t eat properly and tried to do entirely more than I really should have. It’s really no wonder my body rebelled and ended up failing me right when I needed it not to do.

The good news for me is that I took the warning seriously. I started listening to my body, and my mind and emotions. I started figuring out when I needed to take time to unwind, eat something healthy, get some exercise. It took years to get to this point of view. I mourned my loss of being Super Woman, of handling everything that came my way without an issue. I mourned the person who could do everything and not break a sweat. Too bad I was living on borrowed energy the entire time, and burning the candle at both ends plus the middle.

A change had to be made, once I had my RAI treatment to kill off my thyroid and things started to calm down. I had to step back and re-evaluate how I lived my life. First thing I did was change careers. This was difficult, I had just graduated with a degree in Financial Planning and Counseling 3 years prior and felt like I was getting a handle on being a stockbroker in a call center. I knew though, that the constant days with a headset dealing with a lot of really agitated people wasn’t the best place to reduce my stress. At the time I realized that the part time position I took my last year in college helping to rewire a network and fix computers for the college was actually something I was not only good at, but I enjoyed immensely. I made the leap to switch careers. After a few years I felt like it was a good choice so I went back to school and got a second degree in Computer Networking Systems. This led to me going up in the Information Technology world and being an IT Systems Admin for a few small companies. I loved it. I did realize though after a few years that I was right back where I didn’t need to be. Too much stress due to too much responsibility in charge. Not enough downtime and I was letting it take over my health again. So, a few years ago after talking it over with my husband I decided to leave full time work. At the time I was hoping maybe a few months of rest would restore me to being able to work full time again in the future. That was in 2010.

I tried to do a version of my old IT job. I tried to build a computer repair business full time, and wasn’t entirely successful. I have several elderly ladies and a few others who I help with their computer problems from time to time still, but I didn’t have the drive or health to be able to build it into a successful business. Again, still too much stress. Stress is a bad thing to have too much of with a thyroid condition, especially caused by Graves’ disease. Autoimmune and stress are natural enemies.

In the rush to try to do something to get myself back to health, I started doing even more research. Everything I could find online, at the library, talking to others about thyroid disease. I started adjusting my diet. I started getting a small amount of exercise when I could. I started listening to my body’s cues, taking breaks and trying to learn how to read myself enough to prevent issues before they started. I was doing better, so I took a part time job that allowed me to earn some money and also adjust my schedule for rest breaks as needed. I also started seeing a counselor on a monthly basis. All of these things have helped me renew myself and find the new me. After all this time I have found I actually LIKE the new me. I have purpose, I am helping myself and hopefully others. I am back to being a caretaker type of sorts, but this time I make sure I am doing OK first, because I know that if I am not OK, then I cannot help anyone else.

If you have Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroid cancer, it’s a whole new world that you are now part of. Adjustments have to be made to deal with this new reality. Allow yourself to mourn what has happened, but do not stay there. Some fantastic things are on the horizon if you keep searching for the new you. I hope for anyone who reads this to know that having thyroid disease does not have to be the end. You also can find your new purpose. Maybe this will show you how to be more compassionate to others who have health issues, or you will take care of  yourself better and end up living a much more fulfilled and healthy life than you might have been able to before. You might end up being a role model to other people, or you might find yourself a new passion that could change the world! Go forth and conquer your 2015!

Check out Britney’s site at www.warriorbutterflies.com

Photo credit: loop_oh / IWoman / CC BY-ND

With A Little Help…


When you have a chronic illness, it can put you in a vulnerable position.  Not only the financial cost of being sick, but the emotional toll. Friends and family members may turn away when you are chronically ill, because unlike a normal illness, this doesn’t end. Some people do not know how to deal with someone who is always hurting, or frequently down. This lack of support system at a time you really need help and your own guilt about not holding up what you feel is your end of the bargain, can really damage a person’s life.

One of the major issues we face, other than coping with the disease itself is our sense of worth. First is the isolation, it can cause, and the loss of self-esteem, pride and self-worth. Then we can have our thyroid itself messing with our emotions. This can lead to depression, anxiety and in some cases suicide. It can cause people to give up. There are resources that can help with this first issue. Assuming that you are insured and able to at least get your basic medical issues taken care of, the next step is finding a good counselor. There are many different schools of therapy out there, so you may have to investigate more than one to find out who might be a good match.

A lot of people have gotten the thought that only broken people or crazy people need therapy. When what it can be is a release valve to help you learn coping skills so your life is LESS stressful. It can provide you with a sounding board so that you can know if your thinking on a subject is healthy or not and if not how to start changing it so you can better cope with your life as it is. What people do not realize is with a chronic illness, you really go through a mourning period. What happens is that the old you no longer exists. You no longer are the healthy person who can ignore most health issues as they will go away. They won’t go away and it can be dangerous to ignore. No one teaches you how to deal with a change of that magnitude. Not only that, but how do you deal with family and friends when your life has changed? Do you know how to set boundaries with others, so that you don’t add to your stress, thus keeping yourself healthier? How do you keep yourself calm when a flare up of your illness hits? These are all questions that a good counselor can help you answer. It also helps to be able to vent to someone who is not a family or friend at least once a month or so to get all the aches, pains, etc out of your system a bit.

First thing to figure out is: do you open up better by yourself or with other people to lead the way. Individual counseling will be better for someone who feels more comfortable talking about things one on one in a private session. There are many different types of therapy with this, so call and ask a potential counselor what type of therapy they usually practice and what is involved. Some therapists have you do homework and writing to work through issues. Others will do hypnotherapy, putting you in a relaxed state of mind and suggesting to your subconscious things that will help you cope better. Still others will have you talk about your past and try to work through past experiences to keep them from interfering in the present. There are even some who work with visual images to help your mind deal with issues, doing visual imagery to work through a problem.

For other people, it’s easier to find a group therapy session and attend one with others. Listening to others deal with issues similar to yours, can help some people feel safe to open up and talk about their own issues. It has the added bonus of allowing someone to hear about what others are going through and therefore, not feeling like they are the only one dealing with that problem and hear about how other people deal with similar issues. If this is you, check out your local counseling organization, such as www.goodtherapy.org or www.find-a-therapist.com to see what is available.

Here are some top reasons that a counselor can be helpful to a person with a chronic illness:

  1. Help you come to terms with your new life as a person with a chronic illness
  2. Learn new ways to cope with stress
  3. Overcome fears or insecurities
  4. Become more confident in dealing with others
  5. Learn how to set boundaries with others for your health
  6. Understand yourself better, the Why of You
  7. Designated person to vent to and relieve stress
  8. Healthier relationships with others
  9. Identify which is your illness causing mood swings and which is you
  10. Find a mentally healthy you!