10 life lessons from my autoimmune disorder (ITP) that helped me brave the Covid-19 pandemic

A series on Mental Health and Mindfulness

10 life lessons from my autoimmune disorder (ITP) that helped me brave the Covid-19 pandemic
10 life lessons from my autoimmune disorder (ITP) that helped me brave the Covid-19 pandemic

Hi,

I hope this post finds you in the pink of your health and I hope this series over the next 2 weeks will help you reflect on your priorities and purpose.

Pandemic has struck us all hard. More than the pandemic itself, it’s the uncertainty that it has brought along causing panic and stress which has struck us much harder and fatal at times. It is certainly a prime reason for concern. But then knowing that this unprecedented situation is here to stay with its foreseen and unforeseen aftermath for at least some more months or years, how are we to ready ourselves? And how soon? I guess I have something to share with you, a lived experience with one such unprecedented times (of illness), to help you find your way of adjusting to a new normal.

1o years back, as a newlywed, when I hit the hospital for the first time in an unconscious state, least did I or my family knew that there was a chronic illness lurking around. We thought it was just out of exertion or climate change (moving from Chennai to Bangalore) or mere homesickness. That was the first time when I was diagnosed with a low platelet count. After a day’s hospitalization, some IV fluids did the job and I was back in my life.

Few months down the line, during the 6th month of my pregnancy what meant to be a regular check-up turned out to be a nightmare with my platelet counts dropping too quick with every passing day. While the normal platelet count should be somewhere between 1,50,000-4,50,000, mine dropped to 50,000 all of a sudden with no signs of fever or dengue to cause it plummet. Since then it has been a lot of blood draws, infusions and heavy doses of steroids on and off. What at first looked as gestational thrombocytopenia initially was later diagnosed as Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP) as a forever friend!

Acceptance is the foundation for healing.
©Creative lettering by Roshna @ https://www.instagram.com/creativeme157/

The analogy from yesterday’s post will give you an idea of why exactly ITP helped me see Covid-19 through the same lens. So when the pandemic hit, the state of uncertainty, the panic and stress around it, the necessity for adapting towards a new normal was all familiar with me and so little less stressful. The first step in facing a crisis is to ACCEPT IT. The more time we are in denial of the truth, the more complicated it gets. I understand it’s not easy to accept the crisis in the face of death and losing dear ones. But to survive and look forward, acceptance is a must.

The first time when I realized ITP is an autoimmune disorder, which means my own immunity is going against my platelets for no known reason, and that it has no cure and I have to live with it for a lifetime, it was more than tough. Indigestible. I was in a denial. I would ignore the symptoms and flare ups and push myself through everything just to realize later that it would actually worsen the condition and not help in any way. I was not ready to accept that my priorities need to change. And this denial costed me my peace of mind and also took a toll on my health.

Take it from me, denial causes stress and stress reflects on your health. So it’s better to accept crisis at its face, breathe and think-ok what now? The sooner we accept; the sooner we will be out of trouble. The sooner we will be working on a solution and looking for alternatives. Acceptance is gold. It’s the foundation towards healing.

You may ask if I was able to embrace acceptance easily. Well, I’m not going to lie, I had my false beliefs, ignorance and denial in place that it took me almost 6 years to accept completely. Though I was making minor changes here and there in lifestyle choices, job prospects or even in personal relationships, I was not wholly accepting the change. Somewhere in my mind, I was thinking and hoping that I would get back to my old self but no, I was just getting old and not wise. But my experience then has immensely helped me process the pandemic with the right mindset. This time around, I was not in denial.

So here are few takeaways on how can you practice acceptance in any given situation:

  • Firstly, understand that how much ever hard we try and be prepared to have exponential growth, the life chart is going to be sinusoidal, with its own highs and lows. Remember, it is normal.
  • Learn to see a situation just as a situation, neither as a good one or a bad one. This helps in approaching a problem with a clearer vision.
  • Acknowledge the situation and circumstance in its full essence. When you acknowledge, it becomes easier to find the cause and think of a solution.
  • Do not compare your life with others. Social media can easily hide away scars with filters. So please live your life to its fullest capabilities without putting yourself into the comparison grind. 
  • Acceptance starts from self. Look into yourself first. Don’t be judgmental, things can always get better. But to get better, acceptance matters.
  • Focus your shift on any tiniest amount of good thing that you have, it can be the abilities that you still have, can be the basic amenities that you can still do with. Focus on anything that you can still have control on. It helps relieve the stress from things that’s not under our control or influence.

That said, there is also another important aspect towards acceptance that can empower you towards accepting things with grace. More on that in tomorrow’s post. Meanwhile, let me know how are you coping with the pandemic, okay?

Stay home, stay safe.

Take care.

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon and also part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.