Coping with chronic illness can be challenging to balance with the symptoms of the illness itself as well as the effects it may have on our mental health. That’s why it is essential to have a strong strategy to not only take care of yourself physically but also mentally and emotionally with healthy coping strategies.
I was diagnosed at the age of 10 with Juvenile Diabetes and was provided therapy to help me learn how to cope and adjust to the life-long struggles that I would have being insulin dependent. It was through this experience as a young child that led me to my passion of wanting to be a therapist.
Through my own treatment of learning how to cope with chronic illness, I have learned how to help others to cope too.
The first and most important element I learned regarding coping with chronic illness is, we are who we are first.
Chronic illness is just a part of our life, it is NOT our life.
I can appreciate that this philosophy and mentality at times can be easier said than done, but it is essential for our overall coping and mental health success. Allow yourself to be the person you are FIRST and ALWAYS versus identifying as the chronic illness.
I happen to have Diabetes, but that is not who I am, and it doesn’t define me.
Second is learning to be ourselves always even though we may have some limitations caused by our chronic illness.
I can appreciate that with some illness there are greater limitations and with that the greater our focus needs to be on focusing on who we are. Identify all the elements that make you, you and what you are passionate about.
A challenge I hear a lot is when people associate their identity with their chronic illness or the activity that they feel they are now limited to. The strategy to overcome that is to identify where your passion is and seeing that you can still have that passion and that passion is a part of your identity, NOT the limitation.
Continue to live your passion and what drives you.
Inspiring examples that come to mind are individuals that are physically limited in participating in physical activities that they love and are passionate about. With that same love and passion, although they may be physically limited by their illness, they still love the activity and look for alternative ways to appreciate it and continue to drive their passion.
So continue to love what you love, no matter what!
Coping skills and activities are important to utilize to help you overcome depression and or anxiety that may be associated or triggered by chronic illness and can be any activity or exercise that helps to improve your mood and help with an emotional situation.
Lastly, it’s incredibly important to have strong support to help with coping with chronic illness.
Talk with your family, friends, and support system about the things you’re passionate about and love to help you feel more like yourself. Allow your support system to help you continue to be you.
You can also find a therapist to help support you with coping with chronic illness just as I did. For more information and support in coping with your chronic illness, please feel free to contact me.