Being diagnosed with a long-term health condition can affect you in many ways, and be difficult to cope with both physically and psychologically. Some years ago, I developed an illness that is now cured, but still has its effect. So I would like to offer some tips to help others in a similar situation, whether it is you personally or someone you know.
Knowing information about your condition helps you to deal with it, and have some idea of what you may expect. A good place to start is with charities and self-help groups that specialise in your particular condition. Their information is reliable, whereas some sites can be misleading and give you a false impression of the situation. Also talk to people who have direct experience, as that can teach you a lot more than the clinical perspective of doctors.
Many conditions, especially common ones, have local groups. Check out websites for details. It’s not just about swapping symptoms, but talking to people who understand what you are going through and can give you personal experience. Plus it’s a good opportunity to socialise as well, and talk about other things.
Having a chronic condition can make you feel very isolated, especially if it limits your ability to work or leave the house. This is where online buddies really come into their own. Whether they are in the same situation or not, having online friends means that you can feel connected to the outside world, and also have someone to talk to when you are feeling lonely.
Being diagnosed with a long-term condition can leave you bewildered. Often, you have a number of questions you want to raise, but when you meet with your consultant those questions go out of your head. The answer is to make a list for when you see your consultant – write down things as and when you remember them.
Keeping a diary can be very useful, as it can help you pinpoint patterns. This can assist your consultant in deciding on your treatment, and help you work out if certain things affect you. In addition, it can also be useful to get your thoughts down on paper – at times, we all wonder ‘why me?’
Anyone can start a blog these days, and writing about your health can help you deal with how your illness impacts on your life. It can also be a big help to other people to read accounts of how others deal with the same problem.
I don’t mean that you should just put up with your health problems and stop complaining. What I am advising is that you see it as part of your life, and not the whole you. If it limits your activities, learn to recognise when you are more fit and when you need to rest. Then do more when you are capable.
Have you had experience of long-term illness yourself or within your family, and what helped you to cope?
Top Photo Credit: The Doctr
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