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Living With An Invisible Disability

As you’ll be aware if you’ve read my About Me page or my previous blogs, I have a few health issues that affect my everyday life. I figured that writing a post about my health it could really help a lot of people in a similar situation to me.

I have three conditions that affect me most; hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid), fibromyalgia and joint hypermobility syndrome.

The symptoms of these conditions are all similar, including;

  • severe fatigue
  • chronic widespread pain
  • slow cognitive process
  • insomnia and other sleep issues
  • anxiety and depression

On top of that, I also have mild IBS which is common in people who have fibromyalgia.

All of this can make day-to-day life fairly hard. I get tired after having a shower, making dinner is simply impossible some nights, and when you can’t pick up your son who just wants a cuddle it can be heartbreaking.

 

These lifestyle changes have hugely helped me;

Light but regular exercise

It’s usually the first thing a doctor will tell you to do, and there is good reason. Regular exercise benefits everyone, but when you suffer from chronic pain it can help avoid stiffness and muscle aches. Avoid any high impact like running that can make joint pain worse. In the new year I’m joining a yoga and pilates class which I’ve heard is great for people suffering with pain. Make sure you listen to your body and don’t push it too far.

 

Sleep and wake at the same time every day

This has helped me massively. Sleep has a huge impact on your health, and when you have insomnia and unrestorative sleep it is particularly important. By going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday you create a routine and your body will love you for it. You’ll start to feel tired as you get closer to your opted bedtime, and you’ll start to naturally wake up at your allocated alarm time. Since doing this I definitely feel much more rested and the stiffness I get in the mornings is getting less.

 

Get a TFL Blue Badge for London public transport

TFL will be rolling out a blue badge scheme in Spring 2017. I was lucky enough to be a part of the trial this year and it made such a huge difference to my life. At the time I was commuting to central London and public transport is a nightmare for the healthiest of people. For someone with an invisible disability it can be not just daunting but paralysing too. As soon as I got the TFL Blue Badge I would be offered a seat, and if it was too busy that people didn’t see the badge I had the confidence to ask for a seat and was not once denied one. If you use public transport in London and have a disability, visible or invisible, this badge will change your world!

 

Eat clean, and drink water!

It’s a given that eating sweets and drinking copious amounts of alcohol isn’t good for you. When you have issues with pain and fatigue, especially with IBS thrown in, eating and drinking right is one lifestyle change you have to make albeit the hardest change. Since seeing a dietician I’ve been (attempting) to follow a low-fodmap diet. Fodmap means¬†Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. In basic terms it’s a group of starches that can be hard to digest for some people. There is a lot that has to be eliminated and it can feel overwhelming. It took me three months before I was able to actually eliminate everything that is high-fodmap, once I did I never felt better! Not only has this helped avoid painful cramps but it’s also improved my fatigue and other widespread pain. Like with all lifestyle changes, not everyone is the same. After three weeks of eliminating everything that is high-fodmap, you can start introducing things one at a time and see how your body reacts. I’ve found that I can’t reintroduce much back into my diet but at least now I know what to expect. If you have any digestion issues speak to your doctor about seeing a dietician for advice on a low-fodmap diet.

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