Dealing With Illness Emotionally
About the author:
The past few months I was in a situation where all my energy and Empathic abilities were drained. Everything and everyone around me irritated me to a point of being not able to communicate like I used to.
Times were tough and assurance and guidance from family and friends was no value to me. I started to become sick and lost a whole lot of weight. Deciding to see what was bothering my body I sought medical advice. Upon inspection, the results of my tests indicated my blood cell count was out of the ordinary and more tests must be done. A week went by and I was informed there may be cancerous cells in my system and I would need to go on steroid treatment to see if something would develop. The treatment went on for two weeks.
Through this time a strange sensation formed in my jawline with an itch which resembled a mosquito bite. It started off with a small bump and I didn't give much thought to it. Another week passed and the bump grew bigger and bigger. The pain started to form in the region where the spot formed and also nausea came into play.
On this point I became worried. Stress and anxiety set in and didn't know what to do. Not being able to go to a private hospital I had no choice to visit the government healthcare system. The waiting period to be helped takes ages and I had to put a whole week aside to sit in queues the whole day only to receive advice from a first-year student. This was not good for my morale and I fell even deeper into depression.
Being sent away with only painkillers in hand, I was on the verge of locking myself in my room and never to leave the house again. I didn't need any sympathy from others. With the bump growing on my face I felt ugly. How would I be able to work and be in the same room with others staring at my disfigured face? Things became so hard for me I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror.
This was a very hard time in my life and had no idea how to manage my feelings and how to deal with all these pressures. Time passed and things became worse. I stayed in bed and almost never went out of my own space. At this point, I knew the cyst was taking over my life and something must be done about it.
How I’ve coped with Illness
With a long-term illness we face many challenges. There is often uncertainty surrounding the illness itself and what the future might bring. People usually have to cope with a range of medications and side-effects. People might worry about the impact of their illness on family and friends. People may feel frustrated because they can no longer do the things which they used to enjoy.
Confront your illness
Consider how you view your illness. What are your fears? How does your illness create stress in your life? How do you react to that stress emotionally? In what ways is the illness changing your life?
Try to accept adjustment as a normal part of life and learn to cope with how the illness changes your life. Remember that every experience you have becomes a part of you. Recognise that you are not alone. Try to avoid personalising the illness. Instead of the goal to be cured, it might be worth asking yourself how you can learn to live with your illness and improve the quality of your life.
It is important to keep a positive attitude and strive for satisfaction in life. You might want to practise turning any negative thoughts into positive ones. Spend time doing things that you enjoy. Adapt an old hobby or try a new one. Keep in social contact with the people you care about. Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses and try to make the best use of your strengths while compensating for your weaknesses. Give yourself a tarot reading for guidance if necessary. Consider ways in which you could make positive changes to your daily structure and functioning.
Having a long-term illness is often very stressful. It is therefore important to try to minimise stress and anxiety in your lives where possible. This can be achieved by reducing the demands that are placed on you (by others and yourself) or by increasing the resources you have available. Don’t be afraid to accept the support of people around you or to talk to others about the kind of support you feel is most helpful to you. Learning to relax more can often be beneficial, using formal relaxation techniques or other methods such as prayer, visualisation, meditation, stretching or yoga.
Once the diagnosis is made or onset of chronic illness is evident, relationships may change. Not only may it be a time of stress and adjustment but it may also be a time when you require an increased level of attention and care from those closest to you. This may be a time of extreme anxiety for you and your family. Because of the range of intense emotions for all involved, people sometimes try to avoid friction and pull away but it is important not to wall yourself off. While physical illness may be personal to you, the medical crisis is shared by all those close to you so try to keep communications open. It may help them to know how you feel “That was when I went to see my doctor. It seemed to be the last sane decision I was capable of making. My doctor was brilliant. Everything came pouring out and she listened. It is appropriate to experience anxiety, depression, anger, fear, frustration, resentment, shame, guilt and fatigue. Talking about it is a helpful way to find creative methods of dealing with such changes in yourself and significant relationships.
Tackling the difficulties posed by long-term illness and making positive changes is by no means easy, but can improve the quality of your life if you have an illness. As with any change, try to keep expectations realistic and goals achievable. It is also worth bearing in mind that tackling difficulties one by one and making gradual changes is likely to be much more effective than trying to change everything at once. Praise yourself each time you successfully deal with a new challenge. Above all, do things that you find rewarding and enjoy the moment.
Thanks for reading.
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