The Art of Accepting Chronic Illness

NICOLE

We have all heard the statistics at some point that show people with chronic illnesses or autoimmune diseases have a higher risk of mental illness. Anxiety, depression, etc., are all things that can arise as a result of trying to cope and live with a chronic illness.  It's hard to not allow yourself to be weighed down by the difficulties that come with living with a disease that as of yet has no cure.

I have Crohn's Disease. I was diagnosed at the young age of 14 years old. That was 15 years ago. As I get older I realize just how much trying to live with a chronic illness has affected me. In some ways it has made me so strong, or at leastable to appear like nothing gets to me. However, it has also made me feel weak, fragile, and scared of my own body at times. Those times are the worst-to feel as though your own body has betrayed you, and to have no control over when or where your body will decide to attack next. To have your whole life feel as though it is in the control of the many specialists who treat you, it's terrifying. It is extremely anxiety provoking and depressing to not know what medications are going to work or not work, to know that your options for treatment are running out because your disease is a feisty thing and has managed to overcome any treatment thrown at it.  Chronic illness can affect your relationships, self image, financial status. I could go on forever about the areas of life it affects that have nothing do to with the disease itself.  All of these things increase the risk of mental illnesses such as depression, especially if you don't have the resources to help you cope.

So what do we do? We find ways to deal, ways that may not always be healthy. For my own experience, I have learned to endure incredible amounts of pain and go about my day as if nothing is wrong. This is the type of pain that would land most people who haven't experienced chronic illness in the hospital.  My way of coping with the lack of control, weakness, and fragility that I have felt is to bottle it up, place it in a compartment labeled "deal with it later" and to keep going until the trying times are over. It has worked for me and helped me to truck right on through my illness and maintain a semblance of a normal life. Is it a healthy way of dealing? Probably not. What I am learning is that I need to take time to rest and allow myself to feel all that pain and fear, because otherwise it is never dealt with.  We all needtime to heal, to allow ourselves to experience the pain we go through. It is real, and it can be terrifying. However, what I have also learned is allowing myself to stay stuck with the fear, depression, and anxiety is not serving me any long. While it may keep me safe from my body at times, it also keeps me from experiencing life to it's fullest. The great thing about all of us is-we are survivors. We experience more pain than most people could ever imagine being in, but yet we are still here today. We have an incredible ability to trust others to keep us from being ill. Again, I could go on forever about the amazing qualities and ability to survive that people who live with chronic illness have. 

Take time to rest and heal. Be depressed, be anxious, and be sad and angry when you need to be. You deserve to be all those things because your body has decided to wage war on you. Don't be stuck there forever, because you also deserve to live life to the fullest, without living in that place of fear and anxiety.
 

Nicole's Instagram: pringle1217

 

Holly Gouldthorpe