How do you handle chronic illness?

There are a multitude of chronic illnesses in the world, from diabetes to M.E.  And while we’re making strides in finding a cure for many of these, we may be ignoring one aspect of these disorders…mental health.  A chronic illness has many components to it that may contribute to anxiety and depressions, from not knowing what’s going to happen day-to-day to having to deal with not having enough support through friends or family.  Lack of progress in treating symptomology or not knowing how long certain side effects are going to be part of your life can trigger potential anxious or depressed thoughts.

Per the American Psychological Association (APA), the best way to deal with the emotional side of a chronic disease requires an approach that is “realistic but positive.”  What that means for you may mean something different for others.  A therapist can help with this approach, but there are a few other ideas that the APA suggest:

1. Stay connected.  If you can find supportive friends and family.  If they are not around, search for support groups, or at the very least go online as you can find many support forums.

2. Take care of yourself.  Don’t be ashamed to ask for help or to push if you aren’t getting the care you need.  You won’t be seen as a hypochondriac if you are feeling symptomology and need some help.  Eat well, exercise if you can and find time for yourself.

3. Maintain a routine.  When depression hits, the first thing that goes are pleasurable activities or even those you might do on a daily basis.  Get up, do errands, go to work, go to the gym…just do.

I have several friends who have chronic illnesses.  One has dedicated herself to finding a cure by working in a lab that focuses on her disease.  She does Crossfit and runs.  And she tries her darndest to maintain a normal life.  Another friend found humour as her way to deal with some of the toughest aspects of her illness.  She’s gone so far as to write a book called “Prescription for Disaster: the funny side of falling apart” (which is also available in the US).  It doesn’t matter how you choose to make your way through life with a chronic disorder or disease as long as you keep moving forward.  It’s not easy but as others have shown, it is doable.

 

Googlebox

Have you seen the popular TV show in Britain, Googlebox?  Googlebox has an interesting premise; you are watching people watching television.  Why is this so intriguing?  And what does it say about us?

We get to see how other people react to the same shows that we might watch.   Are they a reflection of us?  Or are they very different?  What does this tell us about ourselves and our views of the world.  What we are doing is something called social comparison.  This is a process through which we are better able to understand ourselves by comparing ourselves to others.  Most of the time we compare ourselves to those who are very similar.  We look at their attitudes, abilities and their beliefs.  We feel good about ourselves when we compare favourably.

The thing about Googlebox is that the cast most likely has someone like you.  But if not, we will reflect on how well or how badly we have fared based on the good or bad comparison of those others.  We will either have an upward comparison or a downward comparison.  When we make an upward comparison we observe people who have it better than us when it comes to money, looks or other resources.  When we make a downward social comparison, we observe people who apparently have it worse than we do.  We often feel better about ourselves when we downward compare versus when we upward compare.

As you are looking at Googlebox keep these comparisons in mind.  Who do you feel most connected to in the show and why?