Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Do You Have Time for Struggle?

Yesterday I talked about Rachel Zoe’s (stylist to the stars) experience with illness.  Her comment, “I don’t have time for this” was provocative because she stated the obvious, but coming from a celebrity I thought was enriching.  As I see it, it’s not only the illness/diagnosis we don’t have time for, but struggling as well.  Is there really time in your day to punctuate the struggles in your life?  I’m not only talking about your health challenge, but any struggle you may be faced with during your day?

When facing a health challenge there are too many things to occupy space in your mind besides struggling with the reality of a chronic or life-threatening illness.  It would be too simplistic of me to simply say, turn the struggle into action and you’ll see a shift in your coping mechanisms.  There is some truth to that, but simply converting struggle into action for some people is like turning a rock into gold.  Are there other options?

At one point in my psychotherapy career I was interested in strategic therapy pioneered by people like Jay Haley and the Mental Research Institute (MRI).  I decided to take a class and one day we worked on a case where the client was dealing with high levels of worry, what today we might call anxiety.  The worry was so pervasive in the client’s life that nothing else really mattered.

The team decided that the client should be allowed to worry because it was part of how the client coped with the situation at hand but it needed to be done differently.  They decided that the client should save up the worry and schedule a time in the week only to worry.  They instructed the client to schedule “worry time” on the calendar and during that time to sit and do nothing but worry.  Sounds crazy, but there was something so logical and calming about containing the worry to one hour a week.  The reality is when contained in this manner, when it came time to worry the client couldn’t fill the hour.

Is it possible for you to contain your struggle?  Could you make the conscious decision to schedule struggle into your weekly activities and when you struggle do it with gusto!  Containment is the process they use for dealing with hazardous material spills…what do you think struggle is?  Be your own HAZMAT team and contain the struggle.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s