A Love Letter to the Supporters of Chronically Ill Warriors Everywhere

 

Love Letter  

It’s a sad fact that in times of need you find out who your true friends are. Not everyone has the courage, strength and emotional intelligence to deal with difficult situations. Others want to help out, but they simply don’t know what to say or do.

The irony is that you don’t need grand gestures or eloquent speeches to show your love and compassion – they’re found in the tiny, wordless gestures of support and understanding.

When you’re diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness, the dynamics of your relationships inevitably change. Sometimes the person you want to turn to the most, suddenly stops calling you or slowly vanishes from your life when you’re no longer able to do fun things together. But other people might surprise you: the colleague who keeps checking in how you’re doing, the neighbour who offers to do your grocery shopping or drive you to the hospital.

Many articles have been written about the misconceptions and insensitive comments that sick people have to deal with. Although it’s important to address the constant frustrations and loneliness of chronically ill patients, today I want to celebrate all the lovely individuals who do get it – who understand what you’re going through, who stick around through it all, who never let you down. This is a gratitude note to the support squads of “spoonies” everywhere – and my friends and family in particular. 

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Fifty Shades of Blue: 6 Self-Help Tips to Overcome Feelings of Depression

 

Blue Self Help Tips Depression
Portrait by Annelies Verhelst.** 

 

We all have days when we’re feeling sad and empty, wishing we could curl up in our beds instead of going through the motions again. It’s completely normal to go through periods of unhappiness, especially after upsetting events. But what if you keep finding yourself bursting into tears for no apparent reason or feeling numb more often than not? What should you do when you no longer enjoy things you used to consider fun and you’re struggling to ‘fake’ a normal conversation?

 

‘Fifty shades of blue’: Mild depressive symptoms

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems, with approximately 8 – 17% of people worldwide suffering from a major depressive disorder during their lifetime. But an even larger number of us are dealing with mild depressive symptoms that are not severe enough to meet the diagnostic criteria for a clinical depression. For example, maybe you’re often feeling down, restless and tired, without much interest in doing something fun, but never for two weeks straight or never more than four symptoms to be able to call it a depressive disorder.

And yet, struggling with the blues can still cause a lot of grief and make it difficult to function normally at work or during social occasions. What’s more, experiencing mild depressive symptoms is an important risk factor for developing a full-blown depression. 

Unfortunately, when you’re living with chronic health problems, you’re even more likely to experience symptoms of depression. Having a serious disease doesn’t just throw your whole life upside down and makes it harder to pursue activities that used to make you happy, but the physical effect of chronic illness can also lead to neurochemical imbalances associated with a depressed mood.

Luckily, there are things you can do to lift your spirit and slowly start feeling better. Research shows that following self-help strategies can be an effective way to reduce mild depressive symptoms. So here’s a small selection of proven methods to help you beat the blues:

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Expert Advice: 11 Tips for Boosting Your Daily Happiness

Hartjes by Annelies Verhelst Fotografie
Photo by Annelies Verhelst Fotografie

 

“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.”

– Margaret Lee Runbeck

 

Do you wake up in the morning feeling positive about life?

Most of the health advice we receive encourages us to eat healthily, be physically active and avoid bad habits like smoking. But it may be time to add “be happy” to the list of standard health recommendations.

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