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

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!

10 Positive Things I’ve Learned From Having Thyroid Disease

Smile
While thyroid disease isn’t fun in a lot of ways, it’s a life changer for sure. Not all of those changes are bad if you don’t want them to be. Here’s my top ten things I’ve learned or discovered that were good things from having Graves’ disease.

  1. Don’t take your health for granted.  Gone are the days when I dismiss my symptoms and try to work through them to the point of being very ill. Which leads me to..
  2. I know my own body. I now know my own body better than most people. I know if what I’m feeling means I’m coming up with a cold, allergies or if my thyroid levels are a little off and it helps me react accordingly.
  3. Priorities are made more clear. My priorities have been made very plain to me. No longer do I just do something that I don’t want to do solely to please others unless it is what I want as well. If I attend a party, it’s because I want to. I don’t have so much extra energy anymore I can waste it on things that do not matter to me. This is a great gift to give yourself, it helps you clear up a lot of clutter in your life.
  4. I have become my own advocate for my health. Since I spent so long being misdiagnosed and then afterwards saw so many doctors who knew less than me about my own disease, I have learned to speak up. I have learned it is ok to question your doctor, find out WHY they want to do or not do a certain thing in my treatment. It is my body and I have to speak up for it’s health.
  5.  Research skills have improved. I have learned how to do research on medical matters. Learning how to pick out the hype and patently wrong information that is out there, from the partially correct, and the spot on medical information out there is something I’ve become better at. There is a lot of good information, and there is a lot of crap out there. Learning how to spot things that could be dangerous if you follow them is very valuable. It hones your critical thinking skills to the maximum.
  6. No matter what is thrown at me, I’m still here. I have learned that if something hasn’t killed me, it really has made me stronger. I have been through a lot of health emergencies, including an allergic reaction that put me into shock and almost killed me. I have survived them all. I am stronger than I realize and I now know to keep reminding myself of that when bad times hit.
  7. Everything will eventually pass.  Maybe it only passes for a short time, maybe a long time, but nothing lasts forever. That applies to positive and negative experiences. The thyroid disease may go on, but you won’t have every single day be bad. This also helps me to try to hold on to the good that happens and cherish it before it goes as well.
  8. Relationships change and that is ok. I have learned who is a true friend, who really cares about me, by who has stuck by me when my health has been at the worst. When my thyroid has made me deal with Graves’ rage, irritability temporarily and people have still stuck by me, knowing that it would pass, that means something. I have developed loyalty to those who have stayed by me and support me through whatever happens. Some of them will read this, you know who you are. I don’t have fair weather friends anymore, and I don’t have family who doesn’t know how to be family to me. The people I surround myself with me are loyal, honest and caring people and I am very thankful for that lesson.
  9. Growing up was a must. I had to learn how to take care of myself, only accept responsibilities I was sure I could follow through on, and learn how to deal with all situations as an adult. I can’t afford to sit around and whine or cry all the time and do nothing. I have to take matters in my own hands and find ways to deal with them. This has made me search for answers when before the diagnosis I would not have. I have created a better life for myself.
  10. New Experiences. I would never have thought to start a thyroid support group, or website, or a blog before this. I would never have been motivated to reach out to people in several different states in the US and countries around the world to find out how others are dealing with their thyroid disease. Having thyroid disease has broadened my world, and made me more understanding and compassionate of my fellow human being. That is a great gift for anyone!

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