Living with chronic illness often leads us second guessing everything from our diagnosis to every possible symptom, side effect, and treatment. With all that second guessing it’s important to know that there are a few things you may be doing that are worth second-guessing. Below are 5 mistakes those facing chronic illness need to stop making.
Mistake #1: Viewing setbacks as failures – when living with chronic illness it can feel like every day is another setback. Just when we think we’ve found something that helps another new symptoms or side effect appears, and that leaves us feeling like 1 step forward is 2 steps backwards. But, it’s not. Every time you learn that a medication isn’t right for you, or that a treatment didn’t work out for, it’s not a failure, it’s a success. You are one step closer to finding the right treatment combination for you by ruling out what doesn’t work.
Mistake #2: Looking for the quick fix – It’s a chronic illness that means that the treatment will be chronic, too. It’s easy to get swayed by supposed success stories on the internet of people who have “healed” their illness. But, there is no magic pill.
There isn’t a single thing you can do that you’ll never have to do again. Those who have found a treatment plan to “cure” their illness have found a lifestyle change or a treatment plan that hit the core of the cause for their symptoms. The change that worked for them might not be what works for you. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying, but until you stop looking for the quick fix, you’ll never be willing to put in the work on a long-term treatment plan.
Mistake #3: Failing to thank the care-givers – It’s so easy to take our care-givers and those who love us for granted. We get hung up on how we are the ones living with this illness, but we forget that they are living with it too. Take a moment and stop and thank your care-giver. Even if you don’t have someone who is there for you full time, make sure you are not pushing the people who love you away. Pull them close, ask for their help when you need it and thank them often.
National Caregivers Day is the third Friday in February!
Mistake #4: Letting your expectations take the joy out of living – How many times have you avoided doing something that you may have enjoyed because you were worried about how it might make you feel later?
You were worried that maybe it might wear you out or you might not be able to enjoy it, so you skipped out on time with friends or on doing something you really would have loved to do. Letting your worry and expectations of what might happen take away your joy is stopping you from living. At some point you have to just let go and live and worry about tomorrow when it arrives. Don't let your worry of what might happen, keep you from enjoying life.
Mistake #5: Looking for happiness in the wrong places – When you hurt (mentally or physically) it’s easy to turn to the wrong things for comfort. I know that the wrong thing for me was food, but that’s where I turned. It was an even bigger mistake since I was in chronic pain and felt like I couldn’t exercise as I needed to. Food didn’t help me feel better, it made me feel worse.
You may be doing the same, or you may be looking for happiness in the bottom of a bottle, or maybe you are just holding someone else (or your illness) responsible for your happiness. Look for happiness within yourself, follow paths that bring you joy. You can be happy despite chronic illness, but it’s up to you to make it happen.