Sunday, 8 April 2012

Chronic Illness and Society: What You Can do to Help Yourself

Have you ever sat down and questioned who you are 'supposed' to be in society? If you're like anyone else with a chronic illness you might have a few occasions where you feel that you are not part of the norm, or perhaps society doesn't except you for who you are. This normally leads to some negative behavior that can actually be rather damaging to our already compromised bodies and mentalities. We shouldn't feel that you have something 'wrong' with you because you have to live a different lifestyle to the rest of society.

Breaking out of this mindset can be difficult though and we'll often find ourselves in situations we shouldn't be in. Here are a few things to watch out for, if you notice them early you can take a proper look to see if they are actually beneficial to you or not:

  • Overdoing it: if you're like me you go on the principal that the 'old me' could do those things so why can't I do it now? You must remember that some things have changed and you need to pace yourself. Learning to say 'no' to others and yourself is an important strategy to have.
  • Stop criticizing yourself: just because you can't keep up with the Joneses or your old self doesn't mean that you aren't doing the best you can today. Give yourself a break and learn to accept your current limitations; only then can you begin to move on.
  • No YOU time: by not having anytime to yourself you are potential neglecting healing, restful time. By taking care of yourself you can give more quality time to the people you care about.
  • Blaming yourself: did you walk into the medical center and ask them to inject you with some horrible disease? Highly unlikely so, again, give yourself a break you didn't ask for it, it's not your fault!
  • Unrealistic expectations: here, take this sea shell and rub it on your feet twice a day it will cure you of everything! Really? If you set expectations on things like this you're going to be in for a big disappointment when you realize it's just a shell. On the other-hand believing that nothing is going to work and you might as well give up is just as bad. Be open minded about these things, get a second, third, or fourth opinion if necessary, but always keep a level head and objective mind set. 
  • Don't give up: if you've been described a new treatment and you're not seeing the results you expected keep with it for a while and put the necessary work in. Give it time and you might just see those improvements, give up to early and you'll never know.
  • No support: not having anyone to talk to about your illness is frustrating. It doesn't matter if they have no idea what your going through but it's the listening and supportive shoulder is what helps. Pick up the phone and call a friend or family member. You can always ask your doctor for a local support group who will understand your pain and emotional turmoil - these are often great sources of knowledge, support and inspiration so I would recommend going to one of these groups anyway.
So if you ever catch yourself doing these things take a moment to see if that is the best thing for you. By changing negative behaviors you'll start feeling better  physically and emotionally. 

Have I missed any detrimental behaviors? If so leave a comment to let me know or even if you have any other tips.

Happy healing!

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