You are currently viewing How to Live Life to the Fullest with Chronic Disease
Nancy, Shelbee, Alicia, Jess

Four fashion bloggers with chronic diseases tell how they cope, and live life to the fullest. Read what they say. May be some of their coping tricks may be useful for your life too.

  1. Chronic Diseases Become More Common with Age
  2. Why You Should Continue Reading Even When You Have No Chronic Disease
  3. Alicia Searcy Cerebral Palsy
  4. Nancy Baten Hereditary Progressive Pulmonary Disease
  5. Shelbee Bipolar Disorder
  6. Jess Jamanga Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
  7. Infographic on How to Live Life to the Fullest
  8. Dressing Up Can be Part of Your Coping


Disclaimer: We are not medical experts. We only share how we deal with our medical problems to enjoy life to the fullest. If you need medical advice, please consult a doctor and seek professional help.


Chronic Diseases Become More Common with Age

Many women over 40 suffer from chronic diseases and/or pain. No matter whether it is allergies, diabetes, depressions, SAD, worn out joints, high blood pressure, and/or just the symptoms associated with menopause, not feeling well just sucks. I overheard my grandma once saying to my mother (her daughter-in-law) “Ilse, aging sucks” when she complained about how her chronic allergies and asthma kept her from enjoying life. At that time, my mom was in her early 40s, my granny in her upper 70s. At that time, Granny Hannah suffered from her chronic asthma, overweight, high blood pressure, and gallstones at the same time.


Why You Should Continue Reading Even When You Have No Chronic Disease

Even when you don’t have a chronic disease – lucky you, count your blessings – we all will have to go thru menopause. Even though menopause is not considered a disease, it is associated with a lot of annoyances like hot flashes, shivering (nobody told me about that one when I was young), headaches, sweating, you name it. Some of them may feel like a disease, though, and menopausal symptoms have to be dealt with.

As women approach or already go thru menopause and the seasonal allergy season is in full bloom, we may learn from women who have learned to adapt to chronic diseases. I contacted four power 40+ fashion, style, and lifestyle bloggers, who despite their chronic diseases, keep up their spirits up, and work actively on their moods to lead positive lifestyles. I asked them to answer the following question:

What is your most important advice/secret how to keep up your mood and lead a happy life despite of your chronic disease/pain?

Here are the answers of these awesome ladies.


Alicia Searcy Cerebral Palsy

fashion over 40 Alicia at Spashionista
Alicia Searcy, the blogger at Spashionista looking stylish in a LBD and nude sandals. Photo courtesy to her


I was born with Cerebral Palsy so I’ve had an entire lifetime’s worth of practice in trying to live the best life possible given my condition. For me, self-care and a purpose for life are vital. I exercise as much as possible and follow a Paleo diet. ​These things help fight inflammation and muscle spasms and pain. I also keep very busy with my blog Spashionista, my non-profit Fashion is for Every Body, and the annual fashion show for the non-profit. Although I’m immersed in the local fashion community and attend many fashion-related functions being of service to others is ultimately what keeps me going. When I’m feeling down (usually because I find it increasingly difficult to keep pace with everything I need to do) or especially in pain it’s tempting to give up. But I try always to be a better person today than I was yesterday. Sometimes I succeed, and that makes it all worthwhile.


Nancy Baten Hereditary Progressive Pulmonary Disease

Fashion over 50 Nancy Baten
Nancy Baten, blogger at Nancy’s Fashion Style enjoying a windy day on the beach. Photo courtesy to her


My name is Nancy and I am a Dutch personal style blogger. When Nicole contacted me about this post I thought: what a coincidence, as I had just started to write a post about my disease. That is going to be a very long post so I will tell you (I try) now how I keep the faith as Nicole asked.

I have a hereditary progressive pulmonary disease. Of course this disease has caused me a lot of sorrow, but it also brought me good things. I was lucky enough to rehabilitate four years ago. This has taught me a lot about my illness and I could finally face it and accept it. I am now a much more relaxed person than I ever was. And I started blogging which has added a lot of value to my life. And I see the beautiful things in my life every day. My sweet partner whom I’ve been with for 25 years now. Without his support I would be nowhere. There are a lot of things I see now or hear now (like birds singing) that I didn’t when I was still working and always busy. I see it with friends, always stressed never time for doing nice things. Of course, I rather would be healthy, but you can’t change some things and then the only thing you can do is accept it and deal with it. Otherwise it will make you feel miserable and that would be a waste of time, wouldn’t it?


Shelbee Bipolar Disorder

Fashion over 40 Shelbee in pink dress
Shelbee at Shelbee on the Edge posing in a pink dress. Photo courtesy to her



My chronic disorder for over a decade of my life was Bipolar Disorder with rapid and severe mood swings. Through a tremendous amount of self education and lots of therapy, I have learned how to manage the mood swings by recognizing my triggers and finding healthy ways to divert them and/or cope with them. I am happy to say that I have been completely medication free for almost a decade with very few instances of mood issues. One of the most helpful methods that I have learned is this…when I feel myself getting out of control inside my head, I need to seize control of my life on the outside. This includes always looking my best in order to feel my best (fashion and style are so very much a part of my therapy), maintaining my surroundings in a neat and orderly manner, and sticking to a schedule. When I maintain control of things outside of me, it begins to reflect back in and I find the mood issues quickly reconcile themselves. On the days when I feel my worst, I dress my best. And it really truly works!


Jess Jamanga Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

styleover40 Jess in monochromatic look
Jess, the blogger at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish in a white suit with leopard clutch. Photo courtesy to her


Almost 10 years ago I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disease with a protein missing in my collagen, causing, trigger points or muscular knots throughout the body and hypermobility/pain. It took years to get my pain under control, and I deal with it everyday, however, I choose to make the most out of my “good days”. This may sound trivial to some, but getting dressed nicely can help my mood and make me feel better about myself. Guided meditation is helpful to lower stress associated with the pain, and having my two puppies makes me get up and smile in the morning. I think taking each day as it comes helps me deal with the reality of chronic pain as one can become overwhelmed trying to predict the future or look too far ahead. Last, taking walks, swimming or exercise releases endorphins, helps lift my mood and is good for me physically as well.

I think that the tips of these women may help you taking menopause more easy, and let menopausal symptoms not take over your life and govern it. And if that all doesn’t help …

… always remember, aging is a good thing. So many are denied to get old. Count your blessings.


Infographic on How to Live Life to the Fullest

The following infographic summarizes the most important points. Print it out or store it on your phone as a cheat sheet and reminder. And don’t forget to share it with your BFF.

How to live life to the fullest despite chronic disease over 40


Dressing Up Can be Part of Your Coping

Make dressing well part of your “therapy” and enjoyment of life. They do, I do, and you can do it too. Start your positive healthy life now. Get the inspiration, support, motivation, and tips to look to your best in life. Get a subscription to High Latitude Style. Deep inside you know when I can do it you can do it too.

When you like the blog, you may also want to get my book How to Dress for Success in Midlife.  Buy your copy now.


Photos: Courtesy to the ladies as indicated

Infographic: N. Mölders

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