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I never thought I’d be writing a post like this.
When people would talk about chronic illness, I’d hear “I’m a whiny, lazy, hypochondriac”. Judgmental much? But that was me, a little unfeeling and whole lot judgmental.
I was like this, even toward myself.
In 2006 I visited the doctor because I was sick, worn down, and constantly down with one virus or another. That was when I was told I had chronic fatigue.
Translation, “You’re lazy”. This is what I told myself….and what I was told by others.
My answer was push harder, do more, exercise….and less than 3 years later, after two devastating miscarriages, I was told that I had adrenal fatigue.
Saliva tests showed that my cortisol output was well below what it should be for a normal, functioning body. Years of stress, out-of-control anxiety, and toxic thinking patterns had taken their toll.
It’s been 10 years since I was told I had adrenal fatigue.
And over the past decade, I have studied, researched, tried various supplements and diets, listened to podcasts…I have had ups and downs….and crashes.
I have learned to listen to my body — and by trial and error learned what to do and what not to do.
I have said yes to requests for my time and attention when I clearly should have said no, and have done what I can to pull back and allow my body time to heal.
I have done all of the things one should do when battling a chronic illness, and still have bad days.
5 Decisions To Make On a Bad Day With Chronic Illness
Right now I’m in a “bad day” – a really, really long bad day.
This bad day – also known as an adrenal crash – has stretched out for over a month now and only God knows how long it will last.
Frankly, I haven’t felt this bad in a long time, but I’m not writing this post to tell you how bad I feel right now.
I could gather any number of chronic illness sufferers in a room and we could fill the atmosphere with our sufferings so much so that there wouldn’t be any room left for oxygen to breathe.
I could offer some of the hope that I’m being given right now.
1. Refuse to get mired in negativity
Over the years as I have battled adrenal fatigue, I have found one of the biggest traps I can fall into is negativity. And for good reason.
I feel exhausted and irritable all day and battle insomnia all night.
It wears on the emotions and I fall into a depression. When it gets bad enough I lose my ability to feel anything – I’m numb emotionally to everything.
If I don’t intentionally take control of my thoughts, I can get mired in negativity, and that keeps me in a toxic state which only feeds the emotional fatigue I feel.
It’s a choice.
There are times I literally have to say to myself out loud, “You will not do this!” And then I begin filling my heart with Philippians 4:8-9.
2. Fill your home with gentle worship music
I say gentle worship, because there are times when I will put on a worship CD or video that sends my emotions into great waves, and afterward I feel wrung out.
This has happened on a number of occasions, and I have even experienced adrenal crashes afterward.
There is such power in music to shift our eyes from our present circumstances to God’s face.
3. Meditate on Bible passages
Another powerful tool I’ve found tremendously powerful is biblical mediation.
There is an incredible connection with our mind and soul and our physical body. This is why hypochondria is a real thing – because toxic thinking is truly toxic to our physical bodies.
The Scripture talks about bitterness rotting our bones – because toxic thinking and toxic emotions cause hormonal responses that drain our bodies of essential nutrients.
And the reverse is also true.
Scripture also talks about laughter doing good like a medicine – bitterness kills and joy heals!
4. Rest in the Lord, not from the Lord
So often, when we’re exhausted and fatigued we look for an escape from the pressures of life – but curiously we rarely look for that escape in the presence of God.
Most often we look for that escape in a Netflix binge with a tub of ice cream or a weekend getaway at the beach.
We’ll turn to a good book or spa day.
But what if instead of turning to these worldly escapes, we escape to our prayer closet or war room…we escape to our knees and allow the presence of God to fill our lives?
Here’s what I’ve found in my own journey with bad days and chronic illness:
Very often when I have a bad day with chronic illness, I feel empty. Very, very empty: not just physically and emotionally – but spiritually.
And when I try to fill that emptiness with the typical escape mechanisms, it only makes that emptiness feel more empty.
It’s like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with air.
That is because there is only one thing that can fill this type of emptiness, and that is the presence of God.
Learning to rest in the Lord, learning to turn to Him on these bad days or bad seasons, and learning to escape to Him is critical to our healing journey.
5. Give yourself moments of silence
The other day, I saw this old recipe from the 19th century for doing laundry. Yes, recipe.
After the water was boiled, the lye soap was grated, the dirty clothes were scrubbed on the washing board, wrenched, and laid out to dry, there was a final step in this “recipe”.
“Brew a cup of tea, sit a spell, and count your blessings.”
What spoke to me wasn’t the advice to sit, take a load off, and think positive thoughts. What spoke to me was how often we don’t give ourselves opportunities of silence long enough to even begin counting our blessings.
Whenever we have a free moment, we reach for our phone.
We scroll through Instagram, we listen to a podcast, we watch a YouTube video…our mind is constantly being stimulated by digital noise.
I know, because this is me. This is exactly what I do.
- I clean house and listen to audio books or podcasts.
- I do dishes and listen to documentaries on YouTube
- I fold laundry and catch up on my Voxer messages
- I sit in the car and listen to music
- I sit in the passenger seat and catch up on emails
Not only does all of this digital noise keep the dopamine pumping through our bodies, it also keeps our minds so occupied that the Lord doesn’t have a spare moment to step in and speak to our hearts.
Remember when Elijah had defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel?
Afterward, he fled from Queen Jezebel, and in 1 Kings 19 we find him in a deep depression. God led him to the mountain where it says that the Lord passed by. There was a great wind, earthquake, and fire – but the Lord wasn’t in any of these.
Then it says that there was a still small voice, and Elijah heard, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
God wasn’t done with him yet. He had another assignment for Elijah, but he had to get silent before God to hear His voice.
My friend, God isn’t done with you yet. But you wont hear His voice until you turn off the digital noise and get alone with him – get silent before Him. Not just occasionally, but regularly.
Plan moments of silence in your day so you can hear His voice speaking to you.
Brew a cup of tea, sit a spell, count your blessings, and listen for the voice of God.