One of the hardest things about chronic pain, is knowing your limits, and trying to live the most full life you possibly can. It's taken me a long time, but I finally feel like I have a relatively good grasp of my own limits, so wanted to share some of my tips!
1) Listen to your body. For a long time, I did not listen to my body. Instead I pushed and pushed. I was angry that I couldn't do everything I wanted to do. And I paid for it. Big time. Now, when my pain starts to get worse, or I feel those familiar twinges, I reassess the situation. Am I out somewhere that is hard work for me? Can I go home? Can I rest? Have I taken my medication? Do I need to eat or drink? Typically for me, if I start to hurt more than my 'normal', I go home, and I rest, or sleep.
2) Sleep is important. Sleep for me, is probably the most important thing I can do to help me live a more normal life. I know that I need 9 hours a night to function right for me. More when I can have it. I don't like distractions when I sleep. No lights, no noise, and I keep my room cool so I can snuggle up properly in bed. Sleep is your friend.
3) Take your medication properly. It sounds like a common sense thing to say, but take your medication how you have been advised to. If that means you don't drink alcohol because it interferes with your medication, then you don't drink alcohol. Set alarms on your phone to remind you when to take them. I quit alcohol the moment my Doctor put me on medication that advised against alcohol. I used to take medication that meant I had to avoid direct sunlight, so I carried a parasol and stayed in the shade. Do what your medication needs you to do to get the best out of it. Make sure you don't miss a dose and keep your repeat prescriptions up to date.
4) If you need help, ask for it. Whether this is in your personal life, from your Doctor because you need better medication, at work, or anywhere else. Please ask. When you have an invisible illness, people can't always see when you are suffering, so ask. I used to hide away and deny when I was struggling. Now I realise that those who care for me want to help me, and will, if I just let them know I'm hurting.
5) Don't give up. It can feel like no one believes you, and that your Doctor thinks you are losing it, but you have to keep fighting because you deserve better. It took me 5 years to get a diagnosis, and more doctors and appointments and hospital trips than I care to remember. You have to fight because you deserve to be able to live your life as best as you can, and to be in as little pain as possible. Keep arguing, keep pushing for referrals, make them take you seriously. Take someone with you to appointments if you find them hard, I often do. Fight and don't give up, because you do deserve better.
What are your tips from dealing with chronic illness or pain? Let me know! Know that you aren't alone and I am always happy to help in anyway I can.