When I began thinking about the idea of being shipwrecked I thought about Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away. All I kept thinking about were the conversations with “Wilson” the ball. That’s what isolation leads on to do, create ways of staying sane. If he didn’t have “Wilson” why would he be insane (or potentially insane)? Because he’d be along and isolation makes us do crazy things.
We’re social creatures and it doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, we have a need and are driven to be in contact with others. So how does this apply to your life since your diagnosis with a chronic or other life-altering illness? You may feel that in your circles there is no one who understands you. There is no one in your world who knows the heartache and fear that accompanies the diagnosis of a health challenge. You may even be questioning how can the medical community understand your journey unless they themselves have traveled the same road.
I understand your concerns and as a provider and someone who has been living with an aut0-immune disease most of his life, I can tell you it gets better. How did it get better? I found people who spoke my language. I began talking to other people who had some type of illness. For me, it didn’t have to be the same diagnosis, but someone who understands the stress and strain of a complete lifestyle change that includes doctors, medications, lab tests, and other changes to life’s routine.
When I went to graduate school and then got my psychotherapy license I focused on nonprofits that served people with health challenges. We found that treating the body, mind and spirit helped alleviate the isolation or that feeling of being shipwrecked. It put people in community, and that’s vitally important to health and healing. We weren’t meant to travel this road alone. Yes, it’s true, you have to take responsibility for your life that includes following a treatment regimen, getting enough rest, exercise, and proper nutrition. It also includes expressing your feelings about these changes and that’s why for many support groups are vitally important. In addition, spiritual support will take your journey inward so you can explore the questions that arise as a result of your health challenge.
Don’t end up talking to a ball named Wilson. Find ways to connect so you don’t feel shipwrecked. Get off the island of isolation and find a community that will support you, understand you, and make you feel a part of something larger in this crazy world.