Living with a chronic illness is inherently stressful. Many people with a chronic condition quickly find that their condition may impact them throughout their daily lives in ways they may not have anticipated. Not surprisingly, people with chronic illnesses have a 15 to 20 percent higher risk of having depression than the average person, according to the American College of Gynecology.
April Christina, an endometriosis advocate and blogger, quickly realized the stress that came with living with endometriosis. This condition causes tissue similar to the uterine lining to appear outside of the uterus, causing severe abdominal pain, heavy and frequent bleeding, and a heightened risk of infertility. After experiencing depression following her diagnosis, April decided to prioritize her mental health and accept her condition with optimism.
“Self-care has helped me manage endometriosis better,” she says. “I am able to express my emotions in a better and more positive way.”
Practicing Self-Care as a Couple
In August 2018, April’s husband Greg penned a guest post on April’s blog. Now one of the most visited posts on the blog, Greg’s post discussed what he learned from watching his wife attend therapy—and how it motivated him to do the same.
“It was really good to see the difference in her,” says Greg. “Things that would drain her and take her energy no longer had the same effect on her.”
Together, April and Greg practice self-care as a couple, believing it helps them each individually and together as a family. “A chronic condition such as endometriosis [can] put a strain on your relationship if you don’t know how to properly handle it,” says April.
April and Greg have found a good routine for nurturing their mental health together: It’s a no-phone zone, and they try to just focus on each other. “We plan a date night at least every month,” Greg says.
They’re fond of exercising together, which is not only fun and challenging but also a mood boost (hello, endorphins!). “We’re very competitive people,” says April. “Outdoor activities have been our new thing. Greg is about to teach me how to play soccer.”
Another important piece of their mental health is their spirituality. “We go to church together every Sunday. We both serve in our church,” says Greg. “It’s one of the things that helps alleviate stress and keep us grounded and focused.”
These self-care habits don’t just improve their own individual mental health—they help them bond as a couple. “It has changed for the better because we’re learning other things about each other,” says April. “It just helps us connect in a different way.”
Photo by Jaenique Hurlock