3/31/2016

Posted by Dr A in | 3/31/2016 No comments


Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can be heartbreaking and devastating. After the initial shock, questions like why me? How did I get it? may arise. The situation is usually confusing, depressing and scary. The mind wishes for it to be some kind of an erroneous information. 

It takes time for the new information to sink in. Most times a person with chronic illness goes through a series of emotional phases throughout his life, struggling with the mind-heart battle. The life becomes like day and night with some healthy days and some painful ones. How to then live a happier life with a chronic illness?



Understanding your illness.
As I always say,  knowledge is power. Having correct and complete information about the disease helps one to decide the correct approach to tackle the anticipated symptoms. Mental preparation for the possible course of the illness and its presentation helps one be on the guard rather than being taken by suprise. 

Medical knowledge is no longer a secret. It's widely available in libraries, online (caution: Don't believe everything you read online, always cross check), through a health professional or through patient associations.

Know your treatment options and their limitations. The limitations of the treatment options and their possible side effects are more important to know as the lack of this is what often leads to depression. "I am following my treatment regimen religiously but despite that I still am not recovering as I had expected". This and other similar demotivating thoughts often leads to depression in the long run. This leads to the third most important point: What else apart from drugs can I do to boost up my health?

Often leaving everything on a doctor sitting in an office and regular treatment courses doesn't suffice. Many chronic illnesses require proactive efforts to complement the treatment. Take your illness as a challenge and face it bravely. Maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise (where permitted), healthy and supportive social relationships and mood boosting activities are all necessary to lead a good quality life.

Keep a diary.
You can call me a pen fan but writing down what works well and not so well with your body and then discussing it with your doctor can provide a better understanding to both of you. As every individual reacts differently to a disease, tailoring your personal treatment plan makes you feel more in control of your disease and you feel more motivated to follow the self-discovered method that gives you the comfort.

Emotional control.
The initial shock and disbelief often gives way to anger, fear, grief, confusion, regret, depression and frustration.

In such times turn to meditation, yoga, healthy social support, spiritual support and pleasing activities. In testing times, have faith and know that relief is bound to come after pain. Choose the company of people who understand you and your problem while avoiding those who stress you out. You might have limited energy and time for socializing so why not use it wisely?

Acceptance.
The secret of living happily with chronic illness is acceptance. Accepting the fact that you have the condition is the first step towards attaining mental peace. Acceptance simply means recognising the presence of the illness within you and not thinking, 'I have the disease and so it's the end of my life.' Acceptance is not a one time thing  but in fact, it is an ongoing process and you may have to keep reminding yourself every now and then of your limitations. For instance, certain activities may no longer suit you because of your condition.

Acceptance also helps you look at the various treatment choices that you may have and taking appropriate actions in order to be healthier. It helps you be practical and constantly in touch with reality.

Adaptability.
Acceptance paves way to adaptability. Adaptability is all about making changes to your old routine so that you set a healthier new norm. You now find yourself being strict about taking your treatment on time, turning to positive social support, keen on self-care, considering fine arts, meditation, music, taking up a new hobby and personal development.

You may explore psychological, financial, emotional and spiritual dimensions more seriously. You need mental strength and positive thinking. The mind is a powerful tool. Channel all your thoughts down a positive stream while blocking any negative thoughts that try to obstruct the flow. This helps you stay away from depressive bouts.

Learn to live with hope and faith. Make most of every waking moment that you have. Remember that not all problems have permanent solutions but temporary remedies are still better than nothing. Never give up because life is beautiful and worth living even in the worst case scenario. Finally, constantly remind yourself that after every night there is always a day that follows.








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