When finally diagnosed with a chronic illness, many people feel a great sense of relief. You now have a name to call the collection of symptoms that have been plaguing you, and you can investigate the best way to manage the condition. Whereas the pain and discomfort of a broken bone is uncomfortable, at least you know that there are treatments and procedures that you can follow to restore you to health. With chronic illnesses, there is no quick fix cure, and you need to learn how to manage your symptoms and adjust your life to your new normal.
So, What Can You Do?
Life with a chronic condition means that you are going to have to be strategic in your every day, otherwise you will find that your illness overcomes your ability to enjoy yourself. Here’s a guide to help you enjoy life, despite your condition.
1. Write a Journal
It may feel like writing a journal is the last thing that you want to do; however, journaling your symptoms and your activities together can help give you a valuable insight into what triggers symptoms. It’s hard to look at things objectively when you are in pain, but if it is there in black and white, you can revisit the journal when you are feeling up to it and use it to identify what level of activity you can achieve before symptoms kick in.
Not only is a journal helpful for you to be able to chronical how you are feeling, but it can be useful for your medical team to be able to see what medications are benefiting you, whether you need a greater dose, or even whether you need to come off them.
2. Knowledge is Power
You can also use your journal to document any questions that you may wish to ask your medical practitioners next time you meet them; it’s so easy to forget questions when you have your appointment. Leave space between questions so that you can write the answers down. By doing so, you have a reference point to look back on when you get home.
With a diagnosis, you may be fearful about what it means. People often have a vague idea about medical conditions and what they entail but are unsure about the reality of the situation. Ask your medical practitioners to advise you about where you can get information about your condition, whether through pamphlets, support groups or websites.
3. Assess your Lifestyle
In order for you to be as healthy as possible, you will need to make lifestyle changes. These can be either physical or emotional. Your home may need adapting to make life easier for you to live in. Some people struggle with this initially as it makes their condition feel more real, however, if it means that you are more able to do things for yourself, you will find that your esteem and confidence rises.
Additions to your home such as converting your bathroom to a wet room, having rails for the bath or moving your bedroom downstairs can make a great and positive impact on how you live. Of course, these modifications to your home cost money, and if you have had to reduce your work while you have been ill, you may not have the money to fund them; however, it can be prudent to take out a loan such as the one offered by Bonsai Finance to cover the cost.
If you need to lose weight, smoke or regularly drink alcohol, this is a great time to make healthy choices. You need to focus on your health holistically and not just the condition. People who decide to improve their overall health are far more successful at managing their symptoms than those that don’t.
4. Seek Support
Friends and family are a wonderful source of support when you are suffering, but sometimes they need a little guidance when you are not feeling 100%. It’s okay not to be okay: you don’t have to put a brave face on it. How many times have you replied that you are okay when you are feeling anything but? Be honest with loved ones and tell them how you are feeling so that they can best support you – your relationships will benefit.
When people find out about your illness, they often offer help. Don’t be shy about accepting it. Typically, people ask you to let them know if you need them, its full of good intention but often unhelpful. Clarify with them which days they are usually available to help, but reassure them it won’t be every Monday afternoon, just when you are stuck. Developing your support network is essential, and it will give your partner or family comfort to know that they can rely on others if needs be.
5. Express Gratitude
Living with a chronic illness can feel like a full-time job. You have a neverending round of medical appointments to go to, you take so many medications you feel like you should rattle when you walk, and its all you seem to talk about. It can be hard to see the good things in life. Before you go to sleep at night, get into the practice of identifying 3 things that have been great today and for which you are grateful. Some days you may struggle, but on those occasions, be grateful that you have survived another day, remembered to take all your meds, or perhaps you managed to get out of bed. This is a great way to end the day on a positive and can really help to boost your spirits.
Living with a chronic condition is not how you planned your life to be, and it can take some time for you to be able to accept your new reality. You are not alone, although you may feel like you are. There are great support groups for most conditions online that you can access 24/7, and you will be able to glean valuable hints and tips from fellow suffers. Always reach out if you feel down, and most importantly, always celebrate your triumphs.