Between living in the Midwest and enduring never-ending weather changes, working in a profession that keeps me in constant contact with new people, and being stuck with permanent immune system deficiencies as a result of my ED history, frankly, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!
Before I continue, I’ll say that everyone experiences a cold or flu differently, but the remainder of this will pertain to my own experience of coping with sickness while in recovery. Additionally, I am speaking from a perspective of long-term recovery maintenance! Maybe you’ll relate, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’re in recovery and haven’t even thought of this as a stressor. Or maybe you’re an ally trying to understand how the common cold could possibly affect your loved one in recovery. No matter who you are, I hope we can all learn something.
Catching an occasional cold or flu bug seems “normal”. Yes, it is unpleasant, but typically isn’t something that would not bring someone an extraordinary amount of distress. But for myself, and other recovery superheroes that I know or have worked with, being sick while in recovery can be incredibly stressful.
Just imagine putting years of tireless work into learning how to trust your body again, and then having it feel like it’s turning against you; the body that you fight every day to love and embrace suddenly feels like it no longer belongs to you. Your muscles ache, that oddly familiar feeling of discomfort brushes you from head to toe, and you suddenly have no appetite.
- REACH OUT! Talk to your therapist, your friends, your journal! Just talk. Explain and articulate that you may be struggling and need some extra support.
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! It may not feel like it, but your body knows best. Trust it. It is there for you, unconditionally. With the support of a treatment team, family, and/or friends, you will be able to listen to your body while sick without threatening your recovery.
- SHOW YOURSELF SOME LOVE! My recovery mentor tells me all the time: it is when you feel most betrayed by your body, that you must love it the most. Whether you’re down with the flu or just starting to sense the beginnings of a cold, love your body! It’s hurting and telling you to care for it! Engage your senses… take a warm bath, drink your favorite tea, burn a candle, take a nap, listen to music, etc! Whatever it is that makes your body feel safe and loved, do it!