Managing Chronic Illness
1. Be an active partner in your care. You know better than anyone does what it is like to live every day with your illness. You carry all the history of what treatment has occurred so far. Develop a relationship with a doctor who treats you as a knowledgeable partner: do not settle for anything less.
2. Learn to manage your symptoms. Through trial and error, in partnership with your doctor, discover what works best to manage your symptoms. Pay attention to what makes things worse and what helps. Keep tinkering with different combinations. Realize that illness is full of changes and what works great today may have changed tomorrow. Keep a diary.
3. Discover what helps you to keep going. Chronic illness is a huge challenge; never before has it been so important to take good care of yourself. Find out what soothes you, what feels replenishing, what helps the pain and discomfort, what lifts your mood. Develop your own list of "healing activities, people and places." Each person has to make their own list, but here are a few examples:
- Listen to music
- Write in a journal
- Sit outside at night
- Look at photographs
- Take walks with your cat
- Set short-term plans for having fun
4. Talk to others with a chronic illness. People who have similar challenges can be a great source of support and strength. They really understand in a way others may not. Look to support groups connected to organizations for your particular illness.
5. You are more than an illness. You are a person with an illness: the illness is not all of who your are. Realize that "healthy" and "healing" can be defined only by you. It is possible to have a chronic illness and be healthy.
Courtesy of: Chronic Pain Association of Canada