No one can ever be prepared for the impact and despair this can have on you when you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness. This often takes on a “life of its own” and many feel a huge sense of powerlessness and grief for their life as they knew it.
Initially there may be shock, denial and disbelief that something is even wrong. With any chronic illness, the individual is going to have significant psychological reactions. With the use of Mindful Therapy and Counselling techniques a person can be assisted to cope with the various stages and experiences throughout their illness and their ongoing journey. It is crucial that the person recognises that there are ways that he/she can regain a sense of mastery over aspects of their life, in spite of the illness and the challenges that arise.
During the various stages and cycles of the illness, family and friends are profoundly affected. They too are trying to adjust to the multitude of changes that have occurred as their loved one became ill.
You have the opportunity to gain considerable insight into yourself and your life as you move through and cope with the emotional and physical aspects of your illness.
Having a chronic condition means that you will have setbacks and move back and forth into times where you cope better than at other times. Part of the goal of coping well, is to regain compassion and respect for yourself and your life as you redefine, re-examine and reconstruct aspect of the ‘new you’. You will still want to hold on to aspects of your ‘pre-illness’ self that you still value, however, will accept that certain attachments to the past in fact hold you back rather than move you forward. Clinging on to old expectations or resenting your situations expends energy and creates stress which impacts the stress response system and negatively impacts exasperating your illness, shutting down the healing process. Energy spent on living in the moment, engaged in positive activities, will create opportunity for healing to occur and a greater sense of wellbeing.
How we can help
Education: Knowledge is power and enables you to take responsibility for your health, becoming aware of choices, making decisions for your care, accessing resources, research.
MindBody awareness: Identifying triggers, developing a Body Intensity Guage, learning techniques to lower stress response.
Communication Skills and Confidence: Support and techniques in effectively and being able to communicate your needs to others. These people may be health care professionals, insurance friends, family and significant others. Coming to terms with change and possibly the need to be able to ‘assert’ oneself if necessary in order to successfully redefine boundaries and limits on what you need and what you can do.
Spending Energy Wisely: Evaluate what is important to you in this moment and feel good about honouring that. Recognise where and how you use your ‘energy’; emotionally and physically and decide if how you are doing so, supports your well-being.
Rebuild Confidence: As you find ways to empower yourself ensure that you acknowledge and validate all your successes
Challenge Negative Thought Patterns and Reframing: “We are what we think” and our bodies know this and react .
Managing Emotional and Physical Pain: Since the mind and body are interconnected, internalizing emotions has a negative impact on the body. We do not come into this life prepared to handle the challenges of an illness and yet we are extremely harsh on ourselves. It is important to learn to let go of blame, resentment, self-punishment and have compassion for yourself and your body.
Acceptance and Commitment: It is one thing to Accept and another to commit to truly transcending your illness and empower yourself towards feelings of inner peace. It requires the practice of the difficult task of ‘letting-go’. Recognizing where your attitudes and behaviours may be fostering dependence, resistance and self-sabotage is important to being able to let go. Acceptance that one must relinquish the old definition of self and life prior to becoming ill allows an opening to redefine and create new meaning and purpose beyond your illness.