Tips on how to feel less like a patient
Besides all the other inconveniences of chronic illness that are difficult to deal with, what can often be most difficult is always being a patient and feeling like you are losing yourself to your illness. It is often times quite a helpless feeling as things you could once do with ease are stripped away from you. It is vitally important to your well being that you hold on to yourself as much as possible and find ways that help you fell more like you. I don’t have any hard and fast tips, because I think this a personal sort journey. We all have different likes and dislikes different hobbies and different things that make us smile. Still, I have done my best to come up with a few things that I think everyone will understand across the board and will help point you in the right direction.
Remember that family deals with your illness too and probably mourn the loss of who you were prior to illness too. But instead of isolating yourself and feeling ashamed of who you are, reach out. You need your family, you need their love and their support and you need to remember that you are still the same person inside. It may take some patience and ingenuity to do the things you once did or enjoyed as a family, but it can be done.
The same goes for friends. Do your best to keep them close. Share with them activities that you might be able to enjoy even when you might be tired or in pain. Having options helps because many times friends feel as lost as we do and they know much less about their illness.
Much of our self esteem is tied to what we do outside home and family. If you can still work i would encourage you to do so, even if on a part time or limited basis. If you can’t and many of us can’t, find something to do that gives you a sense of purpose and also keeps you busy. I started this blog as a way to give me purpose, maybe help some people along the way and to spread awareness about chronic illness. I also do what I can to support some of my favorite organizations from my computer. It keeps me busy and helps me to continue feeling useful and I think that is extremely important to our mental health.
• Celebrate the Small Things
All your accomplishments. Realize that in times past you may not have celebrated certain events, thinking them insignificant, but now they mean a great deal more. We fight very hard for every small victory, so don’t let that go without acknowledgment. It doesn’t have to be a big celebration but recognize it and mark it with a friend or family or even just a treat for yourself. You need a reason to smile, so make one.
• Self Motivate
Something I learned struggling with bipolar disorder, is that those days or weeks that I struggled with depression, I could have had my own cheer squad and often times did, with family trying to cheer me up but it didn’t do one damn bit of difference. sure, it helped sometimes but what got me through was digging deep and reminding myself those reasons to live. Be your own cheer leader. Remind yourself of those reasons not to get caught in the muck and sadness of your illness. Use post-it notes to remind yourself of each and every reason: Husband, wife, kids, dog, cat, mom and dad, friends. Every reason should be a silver lining. Why? Because you are loved and you are worth being happy. I am not saying that post-it notes suddenly changed my world, but it was a reminder of why I needed to try.
That being said about self motivation, don’t give up on your dreams. Chronic illness may make things more difficult and challenging, but if you give up you are giving up on yourself. You must force yourself to change and adapt. Research ways you can reach your goals or redefine your goals. I live by this mantra: Face it. Embrace it. Defy it. Conquer it.
• Breath of Fresh Air
Go for a walk if you can, or sit in a chair and just enjoy the beautiful day and the sunshine. Maybe look at the changing autumn leaves, and breathe in the crisp scent of leaves. Sometimes just changing your setting can improve mood and make you more relaxed especially after waiting in a doctor’s office.
• Take a Break
Stop the all-consuming focus around your illness. Being chronically ill can flood your identity and you can very easily drown in the face of diagnosis. But you are not your diagnosis, remember that. Take time to do the extra little things you enjoyed to help remind yourself of who you are.