Living with chronic illness is never easy. A chronic illness changes your life and your daily routine in tremendous ways.
You no longer have the freedom to do things at will, like you did before, because there are so many other things to consider first now.
Because of this and the loneliness one feels while trying to cope with something life altering, depression often sets in.
In fact, research says that if you are suffering from a chronic illness, your chances of suffering from depression as well are almost three times more than a person who doesn’t have a chronic illness.
Depression, when occurring with a chronic illness, can go undiagnosed for a long period of time since it’s often confused as extreme unhappiness with one’s medical condition.
While some symptoms may overlap and hence get treated with the treatment for the chronic illness, the underlying depression if overlooked or ignored often remains.
In such a chase, symptoms of depression must be looked out for and treated separately but simultaneously with the chronic condition.
While depression has a high chance in manifesting along with a chronic illness, there are ways to manage it which can make life easier for the patient.
Please note, these are just little tips for self-care and in no way claim to be a prescription for curing depression. If one has or suspects that they are suffering from depression, visiting a mental health practitioner is a must.
Talk About It
A lot of times we feel conflicted and uncomfortable in talking about our pain and health issues. It could be because we don’t think people will understand or will be interested in knowing what you’re going through. It may feel like you will bore the other person.
But these are the things we often tell ourselves to justify staying silent, and so we mainly end up isolating ourselves. This only adds the feeling of sadness and loneliness.
Giving a voice to your problems is important because it enables us to reach out for help then.
You can talk to your family and friends about your bad days and tell them what helps and what doesn’t.
A good idea is to also each out to people who themselves are going through a chronic illness or something similar to you. The important thing is not to bottle up your feelings and to be open to communication.
Find Yourself a Doctor You Like
It’s important to take control and get the sense that even though you’re suffering from a chronic condition you’re still in charge of your body and your life.
Many times, we meet doctors who may have the best education and the best intent for us but who we find rude or difficult to open up to.
Find yourself a doctor who you’re comfortable being vulnerable around. You’ll find that this seemingly small tweak is a big change and will make you feel better physically and mentally.
When living with chronic illness, so much of your life has to be discussed with doctors and it’s best to do it with someone you like and who makes you feel like they care.
Even though it has been spoken of before, the benefits of therapy are actually underrated. Therapy will help you in so many ways, from accepting the situation to help in dealing with it.
Acceptance of the situation you are in which is the biggest game changer.
A therapist will hep you understand your emotions and feelings and will help you change your negative thoughts and behaviour patterns. All of which will help you regain control of life and actually enjoy it too.
Do Things You’re Good At
While it might seem meaningless and a waste of time to indulge in hobbies when you have such a busy routine already with managing your chronic illness, it is actually immensely beneficial.
Maintaining a positive self-image is important and doing things you enjoy and are good at will not only be pleasurable but will also reinforce your confidence and sense of self.
So be it a sport or a an art class, make sure you make time for it. It will do wonders for your self-esteem which might be flailing and will also kill the sense of apathy which may have set in.
(Prachi Jain is a psychologist, trainer, optimist and reader and lover of red velvet cupcakes.)
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