Chronic Doesn't Have To Be A Lonely Word

August 20, 2018

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Receiving a diagnosis of chronic illness is a crippling experience for anyone. In the moments after your doctor says the dreaded words, you’ll likely consider all manner of things. What does this mean for your quality of life? How will your general health suffer? And so on. Even if your mind goes blank at that crucial moment, these questions and others like them are sure to find you in the following weeks. And, every one of them can bring a whole new blow to the life you thought you would lead.

Perhaps the only comfort during that difficult initial aftermath is the fact that you have loved ones around you. The chances are that you took someone in the office with you to help you put things together in your mind. And, when you leave and forget everything, they’ll be able to jog your memory.

If you’re lucky, your friends and family will also rally around you after diagnosis. While a chronic diagnosis can leave loved ones feeling useless, the chances are that they’ll do what they can to make your time more manageable. They may all take to the internet to research when you don’t feel mentally ready to. The chances are they’ll also do whatever they can to cheer you up and get your life back on track as much as possible.

Having people around like this can be a tremendous comfort, especially during those problematic initial stages. But, the trouble with chronic illness is that it’s ongoing. And, while friends and family may make an effort in those first weeks, every sufferer reaches a stage where they have to face things alone. After all, even the most well-meaning friends can’t live with your illness for you. And, even the most loving family have to get back to normal at some stage. You, however, have to face this altered life every day. As such, the ongoing battle is often as tricky as the initial days of diagnosis. And the sad fact is, this is often when loneliness sets in.

Loneliness and chronic illness certainly aren’t strangers. While not everyone will feel this way, many sufferers do experience isolation. In fact, your risk of developing depression increases by 25-33% when living with chronic health issues. While this isn’t solely down to loneliness, feeling isolated can contribute towards the issue. This is a problem which only worsens as time goes on, and could make diagnosis an awful lot harder if you don’t deal with it. The fact is that loneliness in itself can lead to a decline in health. Ongoing isolation is linked to increased risks of dementia and heart disease among others. And, given that you already have enough to deal with, you could do without facing these issues, as well.

As such, the aftermath of diagnosis is the perfect time to work at keeping loneliness at bay. And, if you’re struggling for ideas on how, we’ve got the ideal suggestions for you.

Join a support group
We know what you’re thinking; how much more cliche can it get? Many of us avoid anything resembling a support group. The idea of sitting down with other sufferers doesn’t appeal for obvious reasons. But, few things are better for eliminating loneliness. The fact is, you’re feeling this isolated because nobody understands what you’re going through. Friends and family can be there for you, but you’ll still feel alone because you face things alone. But, when you join a support group, you meet others who face the same risks and worries. And, you would never believe how much of a difference that can make. As easy as that, you won’t feel like you’re facing these things solo anymore. Instead, you can talk to others and get viable advice about how they cope with things. This sharing of information is invaluable. From finding the best alternative therapies that work to tips for dealing with the effects of your illness and finding the right outpatient infusion center to continue any treatment you need Even healthcare professionals are making use of it through health analytics which involve sharing information to develop care plans. But, you don’t need to leave this to the professionals. Get out there and do your own analysis. Your efforts here will make you feel better before you know. Far from feeling like a cliche, such groups could well keep you afloat in a way no one else has managed to until now.

Take to the internet
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It may also be worth taking to the internet as soon as you feel ready. Understandably, many of us can’t face this when coming to terms with a diagnosis. In fact, it wouldn’t be helpful to do so before you’re ready. But, when you can, search for stories written by other people in your position. Head to forums which allow for anonymous discussion about your worries. If you don’t feel comfortable posting, even reading other people’s questions and answers could help. In many ways, this brings the benefits of a support group from the comfort of your home. Over time, a support group is undeniably better for eliminating loneliness. But, this could be a fantastic starting point to help you build confidence. It’ll undoubtedly show how reassuring it can be to realize that other people are feeling the same way as you. You may even find that you meet people who encourage you to attend a real-life meeting. Having an in-point like this can be a fantastic push in the right direction. It’ll also go a long way towards removing any self-conscious worries which are stopping you from taking the plunge.

Animals are always there
Turning to animals at a time like this may be the last thing you consider. But, it’s a step worth taking if you have a love for feline friends or canine companions. The fact is that, sometimes, talking about your condition is the last thing you want to do. In these cases, a support group would harm instead of help the way you’re feeling. What’s more, you could soon find yourself shutting loved ones out because they keep asking how you are. This is yet another reason that loneliness creeps in. While it’s understandable to want to block the world out for a while, doing so for too long can be damaging. You’ll find that, during times like these, having a pet around can be the ideal remedy. The fact is that animals don’t ask anything from you. They don’t demand to know how you are or talk about health worries when you aren’t in the mood. Instead, they accept you as you come and comfort you when you need them to. A dog, for instance, will lie on you without asking why you seem down. A cat won’t inquire about your pain levels every morning. They’ll just be there for you every step of the way. And, that constant companionship can be just the thing to rejuvenate so that you can let others in again.
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Learn to Open Up
Even if you don’t want to, or aren’t ready to take the above steps, it’s crucial you learn how to open up. This can be the toughest step of all. After all, opening up about health issues and feelings is far from easy. But, if you brush everyone aside by telling them you’re okay, is it any wonder when you start to feel isolated? People can only help and be there for you if you tell them what’s happening. Don’t assume that they don’t care because they don’t cater to your pain levels. They aren’t going through what you are. They have no way of knowing, then, how you feel on any given day. At least, they won’t have any way of knowing unless you tell them. Get into the habit, then, of being honest. If you don’t feel well one day, tell them. They’re sure to understand and rearrange for a better day. What’s more, telling people what’s going on ensures that your isolation isn’t as complete. Yes, you may still feel lonely. But, at least you can rest easy that those around you understand a little of what you’re going through. And, that in turn could be enough to keep connections strong and loneliness at bay.

A Final Word
There’s no denying that dealing with the long-term impacts of chronic illness is tough. Some days will feel like a battle that you have no choice but to face. The thing to bear in mind, though, is that everything will seem much worse if you try to face it alone. Instead, do what you can to let others in. Take advice onboard, and talk about your condition rather than brushing it under the carpet. Though you still have a long road ahead of you when you do this, it can at least go some way towards making you feel better. It’ll certainly do away with your risk of facing further complications due to isolation. You may even find, over time, that reaching out in the above ways can help you come to terms with diagnosis much faster than you would otherwise. And, that alone is a cause worth fighting for.

This may be a contributed post but all of the thoughts I agree with and match the tone of my blog.

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