Coping with Chronic Illness
What does it mean to live with chronic illness? Here's how one ReachOut forum member put it into words in a recent post:
"I'm 15 and for most of my life have struggled with chronic illnesses from Depression and anxiety, to fibromyalgia, asthma and chronic migraines along with things that the doctors don't understand. Its been a constant journey or being diagnosed with one thing after another and never finding an answer for anything. I don't like to talk about it, and usually try my best to ignore everything because it makes me feel different. To be honest, it is very scary for me and I feel very alone."
Below is a response from another member, who can clearly relate to exactly what has been said:
I want you to know that I really feel for you in your situation. I suffer from five mental illnesses and chronic joint and digestive pain that has mystified doctors for years. In high school, I felt like a freak -- I couldn't do stuff with my friends because I wouldn't be able to walk the next day or simply just couldn't keep up. I went to so many doctors who wouldn't believe that my pain was real (six years later it's still very real) or had half-assed solutions that put me in more pain. When I finally got a diagnosis for all my mental illnesses, and there were FIVE of them, I felt so overwhelmed and had no clue how to deal. Thankfully, my parents pushed me to see a therapist, who not only helped me with my mental illness, but also helped me reframe how I thought about my body. Instead of looking at all these diagnoses as separate, she encouraged me to see my body as a whole thing, working as best it could to function, and to love it because it's doing the best it can.
I also want you to know that you are NOT alone. I promise. One thing that gave me hope (the whole chronic illness thing doesn't help the depression as I'm sure you know) was finding a community. I was fortunate enough to have a disability alliance at my university, and they introduced me to local and online communities of people with chronic illness. I suddenly found a group of people who not only understood my experience, but they LIVED it. And because they lived it, and came together in a community, they had an abundance of resources for meet-ups, self care techniques, crisis resources (like they do on this site), and so much more. If you are interested, Tumblr has a huge community of disabled folks (these are people who have chronic illnesses, physical handicaps, and mental illnesses who all identify under the umbrella term "disabled"). They blog, talk together, create memes, spark political conversations about what it means to be disabled and how isolating it is, and even meet up locally. A great compliation of blogs on tumblr can be found here :http://chronic-illness-support.tumbl...sability-blogs. You don't have to be a member of tumblr to view their blogs either, so feel free to browse away.
I really hope that you know there are people out there who understand the frustration with doctors, the exhaustion of being in pain all the time, and the hopelessness mental illness leave you with. I also hope that you can find a community that can give you some hope. Know that there are people on this site and elsewhere that understand and can support and care for you!"
This is just one example of the kind of help and support you can find in the ReachOut forums. If you are suffering from a chronic illness and want more info, read this fact sheet, or are worried about someone else who is, click here.