Living with the challenges of Chronic Illness
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James A. Baldwin
If you are living with the challenges of Chronic Illness, you already know that you face challenges that most other people take for granted. You are living with challenges that other people wouldn’t or couldn’t put up with – until one day they may be struck down with it too! And that’s the kicker – so many people don’t realise what you are going through, and for many of those that do, you sometimes wish they didn’t!
Do you miss the life you had before it was changed by your condition? Most people do. Although there are those who proclaim that their illness was “the best thing that ever happened” because of the changes it forced in their lives. And that may be so. However, that’s hard to understand unless you are living in the situation.
How many times before your diagnosis did a doctor or even a friend or family member tell you “It’s all in your mind!” Or “Just get over it!” You’d love to, but there really is a problem, it’s just that they can’t see it!
However, when life does change dramatically, and you can’t do what you used to do, there’s a level of acceptance necessary to move forward. Even if only for a time, even if in a few months or a year or two you can regain your old life, you still have to live in the present, and that’s where your present condition might be, to live with the challenges of chronic illness or chronic pain. Acceptance can be a challenge, when you know what you are missing out on.
Another of the major #challenges of chronic illness you may have is the guilt you feel, at not being able to handle everything like you once did – relying on other people might not sit well with you. If you were the sort of person who was very capable and everyone relied on you to keep their worlds working, and now they can’t, quite often they inadvertently transfer their disappointment to you and it registers with you as guilt.
Guilt can gnaw away at you, and combined with the feelings of inadequacy of the situation anyway, it’s hard to handle.
But that’s not all; there’s more to this yet!
Another of the challenges of chronic illness is that it often tears away your financial independence! You might end up on some sort of disability pension or less, because going out to work is just not possible! Even the best intentioned employer needs to know that you can at least turn up for work, and sometimes, you won’t, because you just can’t! You may have to find a new way to create some extra income for yourself, without going to work!
A fact of life with the challenges of chronic illness is that no matter what your plans are, there will be days when you wake up and realise, almost as soon as you open your eyes, that all your plans for the day are out the window – you aren’t going anywhere! It makes goalsetting, a working life or career, study and many other things, seriously difficult to plan ahead with! You need a new way of looking at goalsetting, at life, and living and just getting by.
Your relationships also take a battering until they either evolve into your new situation, or they don’t. It can be a serious challenge for a spouse or best friend to have you transform from an energetic and vital personality, to someone who perhaps needs a carer, and perhaps that carer has to be them!
The person and/or friends who loved you as that independent person before now have to change the way they relate to you. They have to learn that when you are upset, grumpy, frustrated with life and the world in general, even if you are snapping at them, it’s not them you are angry with! It’s your new situation you are angry with, and they are simply within the blast range while you are upset with the world!
Friendships will be tested by the challenges of chronic illness and those strong enough to survive this transition period will be incredible relationships. Those that did not survive would have failed the next friendship test anyway – something that wasn’t related to you would have caused the relationship to break down, independent of you. It’s not something to feel guilty over; it’s something to feel good about, in a crazy way – your real friends, the people who truly care about you are still here! The fair weather friends will not be!
How do you manage living and life as a person with the challenges of Chronic Illness?
If this is you, there is a way forward, but you may need to take another look at the way you manage your life. Structurally, practically you may have a routine sorted out, where you get through each day without too much drama. However, is it really living?
If there was a better way, that took just a few minutes a day, morning and evening, would you consider it? Because that’s what it takes.
It’s about the way you prepare your day and days for what is ahead of you. It’s about allowing yourself and even setting yourself up to have little wins, and then celebrating them. It’s about finding things to be grateful for, no matter how small. It’s about setting goals that build into a life you desire, brick by brick, small, manageable goals, flexible enough for you to manage, numerous enough to build your dreams with.
It’s about creating a framework, a supportive environment around you and within you, independent of any illness or pain you suffer, where you create a team of people to build your life with. It’s about becoming totally aware of everything in your life, and using your awareness to create something new. It’s about creating habits that automatically help you choose the success path, in whatever you do.
If you think this is too much, too crazy, too far from what you believe is possible, then perhaps that is true for you, now. That doesn’t make it the truth though……
If, on the other hand, you have had enough of banging your head against a wall for so long that the bricks are soft, then perhaps it’s time to look at another way to live. Start building that new environment around you, and start looking at life differently. Stop letting the challenges of chronic illness dictate how your life runs; take a look from a different perspective.
No, it might not stop the pain. It might not cure the illness. It might just make it less important in your life; it might take it from centre stage to just being an annoyance that creeps in from time to time… And it might just give you a life again!
“We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them.” William Arthur Ward
If you are a person suffering the challenges of chronic illness, or know someone who is, please share this with them, or reblog it, so that others can learn from it. Chronic Illness is a challenge within my own family and we understand this issue at a very personal level.
Til next time, fair winds and full sails,