• Sophie Ward.

How I Live Battling Chronic Illness


Any chronic illness and disease is a challenge to live with.

We can read books, watch documentaries and films in search of answers about how to cope with life and the illness/disease. Often feeling disappointed and still lost when we are faced with the reality that there isn’t a one clear cut answer.

I don’t preach that my take on how I deal with things is perfect because it really isn’t and I do have some terribly bad days. The days I just want to cry and give up. Luckily I have a strong support system and a stubborn heart that kicks me up the bum and reminds me that I am a woman on a mission.

But what would I advise people try to balance & battle through life & illness?

Here are a few things I do, use and advise. The lessons I’ve learnt and the reality we have to come to terms with.

1. Plant-based: following a plant-based diet really does help me. Don’t get me wrong it’s not always the best. It can be quite simple and difficult to get hold of food. ( We live in a fast-paced, processed, on the go, fast food society. ) But keeping processed, refined foods to a minimum, helps cut down the amount of toxins you put into your body and force your already overworked immune system to have to fight the toxins, rather than infections. The nutrition in plants and clean foods are incredible. Processed foods simply can’t match these vital nutrients and we need all the vitamins and minerals we can get to keep our bodies strong.

2. Plan: you have an event or an appointment? It’s always a good call to get clothes out the night before, pack bags, food organised. To help ease the struggle of preparing and getting to the event or appointment. It’s draining enough just going, so don’t waste valuable energy on the day preparing and getting yourself in a fluster.

3. Bioglan: I hate protein powders and products that state they are a good source of nutrients but are heavily processed and a lot of the time we have no idea what is in them. Chemicals and toxins make up the ingredients list but often we can’t pack in all the nurtients and vitamins our body really needs in a day. Matt Dawson who also suffers with Lyme disease has a Bioglan range at Holland and Barrett, which are a range of plant-based, anti-allergen, nature, nutritious powders. In a range of flavours- sour apple, berry, chocolate and so on. You can add these to yoghurt ( diary free ), soups, salads, baking, smoothies, fruit and more.

4. Plant sugar over refined. We all love a sweet treat and spoonful of sugar and we don’t have to eat only savoury food ( but watch out these can contain hidden sugars too). Using Trivia and Stevia are great. Plant sugars are classed by the body as amnio acids, which are seen as proteins and so they help repair cells and tissues. Refined sugar has no nutritional value and just feeds the bacteria as they use the glucose as energy. I use plant sugar on everything and in my hot drinks but all my organs have kept stable and have not deteriorated so maybe my body is managing to repair the cells and tissues. Especially after my time in hospital in November and I was recommend 8 weeks of daily infusions costing thousands for cell membrane repair because my body was so ruined. I was too weak at the time to face such intense treatment, so really my body should have been in a weaker place than it is but maybe I am proof that plant sugar is a little bit of magic medicine. There are studies worldwide going on about how stevia fights infections and is really good for people battling chronic diseases. So I will gladly keep my food sweet with plant sugar and enjoy using it, as for me it’s helping my body repair on its own. You can find plant sugars in most supermarkets in the sugar aisles.

5. Mindset: we have a choice - sit, mourn and grieve, waiting for a miracle and play the victim. Yes, our circumstances are pretty negative and upsetting but we can make the best of it and extract all and any positives. Really highlighting them and using them correctly to build self-worth and life purpose. Channeling negative energy in positive and creative ways is so important.

6. Understanding: people will never really understand but all you can do is be open, honest and real about your life, struggles, thoughts and feelings so they can try to understand. Don’t waste you time and energy on people who don’t even try to understand or want to. They don't deserve your time and energy.

7. Find purpose: we feel lost, we feel trapped and we question our lives and life itself. We have to dig deep and work out our life’s purpose. We have to be open minded and open to possibilities. It may be world’s apart from our original life’s plan but we have to keep hope in fate.

8. Surround yourself with good people: this is key! Surround yourselves with love, kind hearts and people who celebrate your achievements and successes as you do theirs.

9. Keep it to herbs and not take pain relief; my liver isn’t able to handle ‘stronger’ pills, with my chemicals added to them. I try to limit these pills so I don’t put extra pressure on my organs.

10. Believe in yourself: you are a warrior and keep reminding yourself on the dark days how far you have come and all you have achieved. We have to take great strength and be proud of ourselves for just breathing and being alive. We have the strength to do anything if we simply believe.

11. Throw yourself into experiences: when opportunities arise don’t allow illness or your mind over-shadow what your heart wants.

12. Be naughty: I eat things that cause reactions because I love them! I drink ( not much, one or two max) but I want to live and enjoy life too. Balance is key.

13. Rest: learning to pace and giving your body and mind a break is extremely hard to nail but it’s needed to allow the body to rest-charge and stay strong.

14. Gratitude: this is SO important, I feel guilty for all the years and times I took for granted and as a given. I’m lucky to be where I am now, so lucky.

My health has taken from me but I’ve pulled back. It’s not ideal, but each day I survive and I keep blossoming as a person. I am stable! I am very grateful for this. I am lucky and fate has gifted me more time to make a difference.

15. Be confident: you have faced harsh judgements, been called crazy, lazy! Everything imaginable but here you stand still fighting, people are very admirable of you and you inspire so many. You work hard and its not always seen or appreciated by others but its important to keep working towards your dreams and goals and in the end the hard work will pay off and people will begin to realise all the work you have put in.

16. Offer support: there are people struggling like you are. Just being open, raw and real you help so many to find comfort and relate to your story. I answer so many messages everyday that prove that sometimes being brave enough to put ourselves out there and on the line, can soothe so many.

17. Make memories: memories are what keep us fighting on the darker days. They inspire us to reach for more and they make our life and legacy. So make as many as we possibly can!

18. Supportive Support System: so key and your supports are the people you want to give your time and energies too because they help inspire you, make memories with you, motivate you and give you love.

19. Make a difference: not all is ever lost, inspire yourself to make a difference whether it’s a mindset change - negative to positive. Diet change from processed to plant-based or a treatment change. A difference can change so much. No matter how big or small.

20. Heartache & heartbreak: we lose ourselves, our health, many people around us and our hearts do ( like our bodies ) want to give up on us. The pain and strain getting too much. Which every hardship the heart faces it will mend itself and become stronger. You learn and often the heart ache is a blessing in disguise. We become stronger, more passionate, better educated, we learn more about ourselves and we find out what we really value and want out of life. It is important to keep positive and know this is a test in which we rise stronger from.

**

Like I say, I don't preach the way I see, live and deal with my circumstances, health and life but I think so many of you will be able to relate to the points raised above. It may give you some ideas and also bring you comfort - you aren't crazy or lazy, you are poorly more than words can really explain but here you are STILL STANDING.

People keep telling me I look different, my consultant said I had grown, people are inspired and take empowerment from my journey.

I am still Sophie - but I have come through, weathered and continue to weather the toughest storms. I have worked hard and I have realised what really matters in life. I have lost myself and some people on the way, but I found a stronger self and met some amazing, inspiring people. I have made friends worldwide and made an impact which was my dream and goal. Maybe I stand taller, because instead of being ashamed of my declining health and blaming myself for not being able to explain my symptoms. I have worked out how to understand my health and help people who are in the dark place I once was and still battle through. I am learning that our weaknesses can be turned into strengths. I am lucky EVERYDAY to see and hear back from people about the impact I am having and that has made me a woman on the mission. Any hurt and pain I harbour is silenced because I have fight to battle not JUST FOR ME, but for the world. It helps me realise where my time and energies need to be focused. The love, kind comments and feedback you all give me on a daily basis means SO MUCH to me and I endeavour to reply to you to all personally to show how thankful I am to your kind words. The love I receive from you all is just AMAZING and it leaves me speechless because ( as we all know ) chronic illness can leave us feeling unlovable but when people send you love and appreciate your work and you as a person everyday, you believe in yourself a lot more and have hope in faith.

From the bottom of my heart - thank you, thank you, thank you.

Let's look forward to more amazing times!

Anything is possible...

I hope I inspire you all that the above is true and I hope my tips help.

We have the world to take on.

S

Xoxo

#Lymedisease

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