Chronic illnesses are those that individuals are required to deal with on a daily basis, but that don’t go away and are, at the same time, not immediately life-threatening. Fortunately, with modern medicine, a nourishing lifestyle, and the right mindset, you can lead a happy, healthy life, despite a chronic illness.
At the same time, it is still understandably hard to accept the diagnosis of diabetes, chronic kidney disease, lupus, or other chronic conditions. The following is a list of helpful coping tips that can aid you in the acceptance of your chronic illness and the facilitation of a healthy daily lifestyle.
Tips for Coping With a Chronic Illness
1. Learn as much as you can about your condition.
Knowledge is power. The more you know about your chronic illness, the better.
Naturally, you’ll want to start by asking your doctor questions. Before your next visit, keep a running notepad with any questions or concerns that come to mind. Bring this with you to your appointment, and don’t be afraid to speak up. You’re paying your doctor to answer these questions for you, and you deserve to know what you want to know about your own illness and health.
If you’ve only recently been diagnosed, do some digging online. Read articles and journals. See if you can join some forums where others who also have your condition post regularly. Ask them what they wish they’d known when they were first diagnosed. People are surprisingly willing to help and offer useful advice.
The more you know, the better you can manage your symptoms and avoid further medical complications.
2. Find medical professionals you can trust.
Again, your doctor is there to serve you, and the same goes for your nurses and other medical staff.
If you are unhappy with the medical care that is being provided to you or if you dislike your doctor’s bedside manner, don’t be afraid to seek out another medical professional to care for you.
This is your prerogative, and it’s in your own best interest to find the best medical care possible in your area.
3. Automate what you can about your illness.
If there are aspects of your illness that you can automate, by all means, do it.
Pre-schedule your doctor and lab appointments, and get automated reminders. Order whatever medical supplies you can in bulk (diabetes testing strips, for example). And most importantly, sign up for an online prescription refill service.
With online refills, you won’t have to remember to order your next prescription or pick it up. Your meds will come right to your home exactly when you need them.
4. Tell other people as much (or as little) as you want to about your condition.
Many people with a chronic condition make the mistake of not telling others what they are struggling with. Naturally, it’s up to you whether you want to divulge that you have a chronic illness in the first place. It’s also up to you how much you want to tell others.
But sometimes, it can be helpful to talk about your condition. For example, if you have diabetes and you need to watch your weight and the specific types of food you eat, you don’t want to be constantly fending off people who are trying to give you treats and sweets.
Being upfront can be a big help in these situations. People may be more understanding and helpful than you anticipate.
5. If you notice signs of depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
It’s not uncommon to struggle with depression when you have a chronic illness. The anxiety and fear that comes along with a serious diagnosis can weigh on you over time.
You definitely shouldn’t be ashamed of feeling depressed. But you should be on the lookout for symptoms.
If you notice that you are sleeping more or less often, eating more or less than normal, feeling like nothing really matters in your life, or dropping responsibilities that you used to take seriously, you may have some common symptoms of depression. In these situations, it’s worth reaching out for assistance. Talk to your doctor or even to a friend about your symptoms, and take the necessary steps to get the help you need.
No one wants to feel alone when they have a chronic illness. For many with these conditions, however, it can feel like few people understand what you have to go through every day just to feel semi-normal and manage your symptoms.
So, as a final tip, try to connect with others who struggle with your same illness or another similar chronic condition. Meeting regularly with others who share your struggles can help you feel less alone and better able to handle the unique challenges that make you, you.
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