5 Ways To Accept You’ve Got A Chronic Illness

Good comments from a psychiatrist... - TFH



5 Ways To Accept You’ve Got A Chronic Illness:

Nobody wants to hear that their health problems are chronic, i.e., that the symptoms you’re dealing with are never really going to go away. If you’ve got anxiety, however, it’s not just unpleasant to hear that you’ve got a chronic illness–it can be downright impossible. Your brain is wired to obsess, so it’s natural to keep searching for a solvable problem instead of accepting the one you’ve got. Instead of fruitlessly fixating on ways to fix yourself, here are five ways to force yourself to accept you’ve got a chronic illness.

1) Resist Revisiting the Diagnosis

Don’t believe your feelings when they tell you that if you could just find a better doctor/hospital/health care system then you’d be able to find someone who knows how to help. Bad news often makes people feel that way, but searching for better news is a good way to make the inevitable disappointment even more painful. Your job isn’t to find a cure or just the right doctor to deliver it, but to look for treatments that might help and figure out how much risk they pose to your health and finances.

2) Get A Civilian Second Opinion

Find a friend, relative, or therapist who can help you figure out your options, focus your questions and keep them realistic. Don’t look for blanket reassurance and emotional support, which won’t protect you from listening to every charismatic quack you find or embracing a never-ending series of unlikely and dangerous treatments. Ask your trusted guide to help you interpret what your doctor says and ask yourself and your doctor whether you’ve gotten all the necessary tests, what any possible risks or side effects are to a suggested treatment, and whether you’ve tapped into all the expertise available.

3) Confusion Isn’t Failure

When the first round of tests don’t offer a cure or explanation, don’t let helplessness or fear convince you that you’ve failed to find the right help. Remind yourself that it’s important to know the conditions you don’t have; otherwise, you wouldn’t know what treatments won’t help you and aren’t worth pursuing. Then get a second medical opinion to help you figure out whether there are other tests worth doing or treatments worth trying. Either way, trial and error is what chronic illnesses are all about, so don’t get discouraged quickly if you get negative results or don’t see immediate improvement.

4) Dictate Your Own Direction

Don’t blindly ask your doctors to tell you what to do. Instead, gather as much information as you can and ask them why they think a particular diagnosis isn’t worth pursuing or treatment isn’t worth doing. Without letting your anxiety push you into an endless quest for the answer you desire, use it to gain expertise in your actual, undesirable situation so you gain confidence in your decision making. Having learned all you can, you will develop your own opinions about how you wish to manage your symptoms; knowledge may not lead you to a cure, but it will make you feel less helpless and doomed.

5) Get New Goals

Once your research into your illness has persuaded you to accept that a cure is unrealistic, assign yourself a new set of management goals. They should include seeking advice and gathering knowledge from other people with your illness who have been successful at living with their symptoms and deciding whether there are management techniques or medical treatments worth trying. You must also select clinicians who have the expertise to provide treatment, advice, and coaching over the long term. Most importantly, don’t let your diagnosis consume you; don’t focus so much on your illness that you forget the other important things in your life, like your relationships, work and values. Just because you’re not a healthy person doesn’t mean you can’t still be a good one.

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