If you're living with a chronic illness, you're in the right place.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Emotions of Chronic Illness

7:13 PM Posted by Stephanie Horgan ,
This may be an over share, but a few months ago, I was reading AARP. Not sure why I had it in my possession, but there was an article on chronic illness which struck my eye. It featured the NBC newscaster, Meredith Vieira, and her husband Richard Cohen who openly shared how his multiple sclerosis, which he has been dealing with since age 25. This degenerative disease has now taken his eyesight and Meredith spoke of the balance of realism and denial they have shared as she figures out how to balance their time together and her news career. She and her husband offer an honest and unique perspective as a couple is thriving despite this hard illness. One quote I found particularly inspiring.
"In some ways, the course of a chronic illness parallels the indignities of aging. Most of us, if we live long enough, will realize that we've driven our last car or scaled our last fence. But with chronic disease, the process is accelerated and tinged with cruelty. As we get older things are happening in the right time. We tend to be dealing with them with our peers. For a younger person with a chronic illness, it feels like a robbery, and its unfair. Anger is a natural reaction. Adapting to a chronic illness doesn't happen once though. It must happen over and over." 

This is a great way of acknowledging the anger and grief of dealing with a chronic illness. Unlike an acute illness like a broken bone or a short bout with mono, a chronic illness provides episode after episode throughout the lifespan in order to learn about the anger and emotions behind the illness. Often when we work with those who are younger facing a chronic illness diagnosis, we see a variety of responses, including denial, resilience, sadness, activism, or anger. All of these are natural reactions and will fluctuate from time to time. When you find yourself overwhelmed by any of the emotions of chronic illness, that is the perfect time to see a therapist who specializes in these issues. You are not alone, and can life a full and satisfying life despite your illness.