Learning that you have a chronic condition can be devastating. While it’s perfectly normal to experience anger and depression at this stage, know that all is not lost. There are ways to live with the disease and still enjoy life.
That said, here are simple tips for properly coping with chronic illness:
Engage in healthy distractions
Taking your mind off the pain isn’t always easy. It’s a skill that takes time and lots of practice. The key is to find effective distractions that match your interests. ;
Reading a book, watching a TV series, listening to music, or doing arts and crafts can keep you busy. These activities can sharpen your mind, reduce stress, and exercise the muscles in your brain. Shifting your attention to something else can make the pain more bearable and help you focus on healing. ;
Find your tribe
You don’t have to face a chronic disease alone. For many people, a support group provides a safe space to talk honestly about one’s feelings and experiences. Participating in a support group gives you the chance to connect with people who share similar worries and are likely to understand your situation better. ;
Patient support groups are usually offered by a clinic, hospital, or nonprofit advocacy organization. There are also independent groups that are managed entirely by members.
Support groups may take the form of face-to-face sessions or teleconferences. They are often facilitated by a nurse, social worker, lay person, or psychologist.
Joining a support group can reduce feelings of isolation and distress. Members can motivate you to keep fighting and stay resilient. At the same time, their insights can expand your knowledge about conditions and treatment options.
It can be nerve-wracking to join a support group for the first time. After all, it takes courage to be vulnerable and honest around a bunch of strangers. At first, you may benefit from simply listening. Give yourself time to be comfortable with other members before sharing your story. Rest assured no one will force you to open up. You can even attend different support groups until you find the best match for you. ;
No matter how helpful support groups can be, they are not a substitute for regular medical care. It's best to inform your doctor and loved ones that you're participating in a group. ; ;
Learn about your condition
Gaining a deeper understanding of your condition is both empowering and validating. Learn everything you can about your diagnosis including symptoms, signs, progress rates, treatment options and their success rates. By knowing all these, you can be an active participant in your care. You can easily inform your doctor if treatment is not living up to its desired effect or if you’re experiencing symptoms that aren’t natural to your condition. Being proactive in your healing process ensures that you are getting the appropriate care for your needs.
That said, you don’t have to earn a medical degree to know more about your condition. There are plenty of reputable scientific journals and medical sites designed to educate people about different types of illnesses. Conduct research, read scientific papers, and watch videos online. Just make sure the content you consume are produced by licensed medical professionals. ;
Another way to stay informed is to simply talk to your doctor or specialist. It’s their job after all to help you navigate and recover from your condition. Prepare a list of questions and ask them to verify any information you find online. When it comes to medical matters, it always pays to get a second opinion.
Knowledge is power. Learning the science behind your condition enables you to make better choices concerning your health. It's also a good idea to reach out to experts and researchers in the field. They can update you on the latest breakthroughs about your illness that other clinicians may not yet be aware of. In turn, you can share your insights and experiences to further their studies. There are many recruiters for healthcare market research who can connect you with certified research firms. These researchers need your help to accelerate clinical studies and save more lives. Some of them offer compensation to patients willing to participate and share firsthand insights about their condition. Not only do you get paid, you also get to make a difference.
Living with a chronic illness is not easy, but it’s not impossible, either. Accepting your condition instead of dwelling on what you can’t do will make it easier to combat stress and depression. Keeping a positive mindset and celebrating everyday wins will pave your way towards growth and happiness.