Living with a chronic illness

George Pegios – It is easy for an illness to become the main focus of attention in a person’s life especially when he has recently been diagnosed and is starting to get used to the idea and face the situation.

Many people find that reminding themselves that their illness is only part of who they are helps them to relativize things. Maintaining friendships, hobbies and daily routines helps a lot.

There is no doubt that adolescence can be much more difficult when dealing with a health problem. Aside from social pressures to “fit in” and be accepted by the group, this is a period of learning about the body and understanding of the body itself.

At a stage where it is natural to worry about body image, it can be very hard to feel different.

Understandably, every once in a while an adolescent simply feels like he can’t take it anymore and is fed up with living with a chronic illness.

George Pegios – Even those teenagers who coped well with their illness during childhood may feel the pressing desire to lead a “normal” life, without medication or limitations, and without having to take care of themselves in any special way. It is a completely normal reaction.

Some teens who have learned to control their disease feel so healthy and strong that they question whether they need to continue the treatment program. For example, a teenager with diabetes may consider skipping a meal while shopping in a department store, or having their blood sugar measured after training rather than before.

Unfortunately, failing to follow the treatment schedule can have disastrous consequences. The best thing you can do is tell the doctor how you are. Tell him what you would like to do but he is not supposed to do – so that he tells you exactly what you can and cannot do. It’s just a matter of taking responsibility and taking an active role in your health care.

When a person has to live with a chronic illness, it can sometimes be difficult for her to love her body. But it doesn’t take a perfect body to have a good body image. Your body image can improve if you take care of yourself, know how to value your abilities and accept your limitations – something that is true for everyone, whether or not you have a chronic disease.

When a person is tired of being sick, it can help a lot to express their frustration or sadness to a sympathetic ear. At times like these, it is important that you think about how others can help you and ask for help and express what you would like them to do for you.

Some people find that they can ease their sense of loss by reaching out to other people and offering to help others who need help. Helping someone out can help make your own problems seem easier to deal with.

Adjusting to living with a chronic illness requires time, patience, support – and the desire to learn and participate in your own health care. People who have to face unexpected challenges often discover in them a capacity for adaptation and resistance that they never imagined they might have.

Many say they learn more about themselves by facing those challenges, and feel that they grow as people and develop inner strength and self-awareness to a much greater extent than if they had not had to face such challenges.

George Pegios – People with chronic illnesses discover that when they take an active role in their health care, they learn to understand and value their strengths – and to adapt to the weak – as they have never done before.