Traci Banister has Degenerative Disc Disease, Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Migraines, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, and is a rainbow haired Hot Mess Single Mom. She can be found on Instagram and has Live Broadcasts every day at HappyTraci. You can also find her podcast by searching Happy Traci on iTunes Podcasts – a new podcast about Chronic Pain will be launching soon!
Just a few years ago, I would wake up before the sun, rush to the gym and lift weights for an hour, work a full day and end my workday with a little 5K just for funsies! I ran Half Marathons every month, and was a bikini girl in Venice Beach for one shining day! Today, I am pretty much housebound with 24/7 unbearable pain, and can’t walk more than a block due to chronic pain conditions that have overtaken my body. I am a fitness girl at heart, but I find myself trapped in this deteriorating body. As hard as this is, I have learned to turn this big old bummer into always finding the rainbow. This is my How-To-Guide of Living with Chronic Pain and Staying Happy in 5 Simple Steps, by Happy Traci!
1. If it does not serve you, then leave it. Stress makes my illnesses so much worse. It literally breaks my body down from the inside out, so I have a “Good Vibes Only!” policy. Someone give unsolicited advice? Smile, thank them and move on. Barista get the wrong name? Wish them the happiest of days. Someone honk in the drive through behind you? Kill em with kindness…pay for their order. If someone tries to be in my life that is harmful and not lovely, they aren’t given attention and time! I’m so very sorry, but my health MUST be the top priority. I’m fighting for my life here, and I have to make ME #1! You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose your attitude about it!
2. Find something you CAN do, and do it. I had to leave a 20 year career with Disney because I became just too sick. As much as I did not want to leave what’s truly the happiest place on earth, I had to find something that I could do, and I was able to find a way to sell clothing from my home in my own hours in an ADA adaptable way. I made a “forced retirement” new career work in a way that works for my illness, and it is giving me a new purpose and has given me a whole new life!
3. Stay connected. Understand some people from your old life will leave you, and just try your very best to not be offended. Some of your old friends just won’t be able to relate with this new you, and you won’t physically be able to do the things you used to. You might not be able to work anymore, or if you can work, going out to dinner and doing things after work might be impossible. Heck…grocery shopping is off the table for me now. But even if you can’t leave the house, you CAN stay connected. How lucky are we to be in a world where this is even an option now?! @thepaincorner has been such a bright happy spot to follow! It’s also so easy to find people that brighten my day by following hashtags on posts that resonate with me, and there’s a great many groups out there that are ready to talk and uplift!
4. Don’t let the pain win. Pain crushes me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…it’s like a literal weight bearing down, but I refuse to let it win…I will BREAK these chains! As long as I can move, I will! I was able to get a super cool wheelchair so I can travel and enjoy long trips to Disneyland and keep up with my kids because time on my feet is super limited. So as long as I can move, I will! The hardest part of the day is getting out of bed…does anyone else turn into a tin man in the morning? But I have to fight that battle every day…I have to get out of bed, no matter what. I cannot let these illnesses win!
5. Never, ever let it rob your joy. No matter how much pain I’m in, or how dire the circumstance feels, I refuse to let this take my sparkle. I have an incredible boyfriend and two amazing daughters that I’m raising to have a beautiful outlook on life. I’ve been so proud to see my youngest daughter rush to hold open doors for strangers, and the oldest rescue every animal she sees. They see me and my daily pain and struggles and how hard I work every day to provide for them as a single Mom in spite of everything. No matter what, I’m so so lucky and grateful for this journey. Find the joys in life that make you happy and bring rainbows to those around you. Have that cookie…color your hair purple…find ways to bring JOY into your life. Girl, you have got to treat yo’self… because if you can’t change your situation, you can choose your attitude! My life is too precious and too short to hurt and be hurt! So be kind, live long, and be awesome!!
Stay happy! ♡
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