Day 13: Has your physical illness had any affect on your mental health? Explain.
This is something that I’ve addressed previously, and something that can often be overlooked by health care professionals when dealing with a chronic illness patient. Chronic illness does not just have a physical impact on people, it effects us physically and emotionally. Chronic illness places each of its lucky recipients on an emotional roller coaster from hell. Looping through endless emotions including but not limited to anger, stress, tension, irritability, anxiety, depression/sadness, guilt, hopelessness, and helplessness.
I have days where I am completely fine. Going though life normally, albeit with limitations. Other days, I feel so incredibly defeated and angry at my luck. I feel guilt for not being a functional member of society. Guilt for the hell I’ve put my loved ones through. Guilt despite having NO CONTROL over my condition.
This is a normal part of chronic illness. We, as patients, need our physicians to attend to us as a whole. That is, physicians need to recognize the psychological toll physical illness has on mental health and address not only our physical well-being, but our mental well-being. I’m not saying that every time we see our Dr’s that they should hold extensive talk therapy with us. My primary physician and nurse case manager have been on top of this. Referring me for therapy, making sure I got in to a therapist, continue to see my therapist, and that I am jiving well with my therapist.
Seeing a mental health practitioner carries such a high stigma with it. People often construe it as being a sign of weakness. I would argue the opposite, in fact. It takes a lot of strength to see a therapist, and talk to a stranger about your issues. Therapists and counselors provide an amazing outlet for ANYONE, not just chronically ill people. They provide you with someone to talk to in a crisis, a person to bounce your thoughts and ideas off of, and can teach you healthy and effective ways of coping with your problems.
If you learn nothing from this post, please try to take the following with you: Chronic illness has an outstanding impact on a persons emotional well-being. Even the most well adapted people struggle. It’s important to be able to recognize the impact our health has on our mental health, and seek help. Seeking help IS NOT a sign of weakness, and in fact shows courage and strength. Please seek help if you are struggling instead of letting it get out of hand, or resorting to maladaptive ways of coping. And always remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Lots of love,