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Living Well: Adapting Your Lifestyle to a Chronic Illness

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Living with a chronic illness is debilitating physically and mentally. A diagnosis can leave you feeling like it has leached all the joy out of life. But, you are not alone. Many people have and live with chronic illness and still find ways to enjoy their lives and follow their passions.

Many chronic illnesses can be managed quite effectively when caught early. Perhaps you have a special bag that you can keep with you to stave off the effects of your condition. People with diabetes need to keep a small pouch with medication and a snack for their blood sugar on them at all times. Some people need to keep painkillers, soothing scented oils, and a heating pad nearby, but do not let it stop them from spending a weekend away with friends.

There is no reason you cannot go on a trip with your loved ones even when you have specific needs. Dialysis partnership centers are capable of coordinating with your doctor’s office to give you the service you need, so you do not have to plan your vacations around your illness.

Include your needs in the plan. It is a part of who you are, and acceptance will help you stop treating your body like the enemy. It can take time to find how you can live your life around your body’s new needs. But with time, you will adapt and learn and grow.

Your Body is Your Ally

It is easy to slip into a mindset that views your body as your enemy. But it is doing its best with the limited hand it has been dealt. Your body wants to be well as much as you do, but getting angry at it for something it cannot control limits you from finding ways to adapt to your illness. Recognize that your body is your ally, and start looking for ways you can help it to help you.

Let Go of Self-blame

Some people begin to blame themselves for developing a chronic illness. This is unhealthy and unhelpful. Despair at a debilitating diagnosis is bound to cause stress and push you towards depression. But knowing this helps you to recognize the signs of depression so you can try to head them off.

Look for what you can control so you can focus on how you can help yourself. This will help you to let go of self-blame and start thinking productively.

Accept the Unfairness of It

It is not your fault that you are ill. Sometimes, life is deeply unfair, and you are experiencing some truly awful bad luck. But luck is chance, and that is outside of your control.

Recognizing that it is unfair and accepting that there was nothing you could have done to change the outcome can help you to make peace with these changes in your life.

Religious people can seek comfort in fellow worshippers and the knowledge that God has a plan and works in mysterious ways. Secular people can turn to science and find purpose in contributing knowledge and support to others with chronic illnesses or the same condition as themselves.

Find Your Support System

No person is an island, and every person needs someone to be on their side. Whether you want emotional support, physical aid, or a listening ear, it is time to start finding out who is your friend and who is not.

Everyone who loves you will want to help you, but many people are uncomfortable with dire situations and may not know how to be there for you. Make it easier on you and them by giving clear directions and making direct requests. People will appreciate that you are making it easier for them to help you.

The people who push back and find reasons to complain about your simple and direct requests are the ones who are not able to step outside of themselves enough to be compassionate to others. Let these people go gently. Everyone is not the same, and the same way you are limited physically, some people are limited emotionally. Focus your energies on the people who are doing their best to support you.

You should also consider joining online communities of people who have the same condition as you or other chronic illnesses. Facebook, Reddit, and Discord are good examples of platforms where you can connect with like-minded people who share interests with you. You may even be able to join some communities where no one knows about your illness so you can enjoy anonymity and a mental break from the reality of your situation.

The internet is an easy way to stay in touch with these communities, and they can oftentimes become a secondary support system for you. Their support will vary from the physical support you receive from your friends and family, as they are mainly providing you with emotional support. The combination of these different types of support will help you to accept your situation a great deal.

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