Let’s be honest. Living with a chronic illness is a huge drag. Not only does it come with unpleasant physical symptoms, it also comes with emotional ones….fear, sadness, confusion, frustration, and just plain anger. Being told that you now have an illness that will accompany you throughout the remainder of your lifetime is not something you have been taught how to handle. All of the sudden, you are required to make major life adjustments, which is so stressful on you and your loved ones.
To make it even harder, you might not even feel comfortable talking about your illness with others, so you try to deal with it alone. I know this, because I have one. I have Crohn’s Disease. I’ve had it for awhile and I know what you’re going through.
When we first get diagnosed, we immediately learn everything we can about it. What is it? How did I get it? What medications do I have to take? What tests and procedures will I need to have? What life adjustments will I need to make? Will people treat me differently? Will I still be happy?
We inundate ourselves with knowledge in the hope we can make sense of what’s going on, and to control a situation that feels so out of control – when really what we need most is to simply talk about it. Don’t get me wrong, knowledge is valuable and being informed about how to take care of yourself is crucial, but sometimes we’re so busy learning that we don’t make space for feeling.
We know all too well the physical discomforts of having a chronic illness, but what we might not realize is that the emotional side effects are just as devastating to handle. Dealing with an illness is difficult enough, but when we also feel sad, isolated, embarrassed, and damaged, it just makes it more debilitating.
You feel frustrated because although you might look healthy, you feel terrible on the inside and people just don’t understand. You’re scared when you wake up in the morning because you have no idea how your body is going to react to the day. You’re worried about all the days of sick time you’re using at your job because you just can’t leave your home.
You’re tired of cancelling social plans due to not feeling well so you just start to isolate in order to avoid being put in that situation anymore. You worry that the plans you had for your life aren’t realistic anymore. You feel like a burden because you know you’re putting additional pressures on the people around you. You miss the life you had before your diagnosis because you felt healthy and whole. Now you just feel tired, frustrated, angry, and worried.