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

This Didn’t Just Happen to You!

It’s easy to believe that the news the doctor gives you puts a crimp in your style and your life and only your life.  Let’s be serious, you don’t live alone on a mountain, in the middle of the rain forest.  You live in society, maybe with other people (your family), or at least you interact with people on a regular basis.  You don’t live in a vacuum and the diagnosis doesn’t only effect you.  It impacts everyone’s life from the moment the diagnosis is received.

Those who love you may not harbor the physical manifestations of the diagnosis, but they certainly exhibit the impact of the emotional and spiritual aspects.  They can’t help but be impacted by the news because they’re human and they have the capacity for empathy and compassion.  Some of you facing a health challenge believe this is your fight and yours alone, keeping your illness life secretive.  You hide the anxiety and stress affiliated with the diagnosis, the symptoms, and the side-effects.  At least you think you’re hiding all these experience; you’re actually not that good of an actor and everyone who has been around you for a period of time can read you like a book.  Hiding your experience means they have to deny the reality causing them stress and if it persists long enough they’ll begin manifesting stress symptoms.

Include your support network in your life.  Keep people in your family up-to-date on changes, good and bad, in your health.  You don’t have to call everyone as things change you can come up with creative ways of keeping people in the loop.  Technology has allowed us to stay connected without having to pick up the phone.  Blast e-mails allow you to send one e-mail and everyone is in-the-know.  Others have found that creating a private blog gives them the opportunity to express themselves in private and without explanation or a question and answer session.

It’s important to your health that you resist isolation…isolation is a health hazard.  Keeping those who love you at a distance denies the reality of your relationship.  When you negate these relationships it means that people become less available when you may need them the most.  Give yourself every opportunity to thrive; keep those who love you in the loop…it’s a live saver!

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

How do I fit in?

There are lots of ways of creating community.  We see groups of people connect all the time and now with the Internet getting the word out there can be quick and painless.  If you see sites like Meet Up, www.meetup.com, you not only can find people with similar interests, political views, life challenges, but you can find them in using your zip code as the search parameter.

Now it’s clear that just because a group exists doesn’t make you a part of it.  The important part about becoming part of a community is that you have to show up.  You have to show up in the physical sense, but you have to also show up emotionally and be ready to become a part of something larger than yourself.  I know that at the beginning the desire to hang back is tempting, but you’ll get more bang for your buck if you jump in the fire.

Feeling a part of something will reduce your feelings of isolation and what the 12 step programs call “terminal uniqueness”.  That’s where you believe there is not one other person in the world who can understand your life or its challenges.  When you become a part of a larger entity you find that being one of the school of fish makes swimming upstream easier and more fun.

Stop walking around the edge of the pool…jump in and see who else is waiting to welcome you!