Coping With Chronic Illness

Chronic illness is defined as having a recurring illness that last for more than 3 months, often with periods or cycles of remission and relapse. Even the mildest of chronic illnesses can have a negative impact on a person's view of themselves.

Having a chronic illness can be quite debilitating, particularly if you are invariably tired or in pain. Your personal appearance might be affected and, you might be experiencing financial problems if you are unable to work. These changes can cause both stress and anxiety and can be very distressing particularly for children who cannot comprehend why this has happened to them.

Examples of specific chronic illnesses include (but are not limited to):

  • Asthma
  • Chromic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Epilepsy
  • Sickle Cell Anaemia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer

Counselling can help a person come to terms with their illness and develop strategies to help them cope better. Support groups can also benefit people since they can realise that they are not alone in their predicament and can help each other.

Do not be afraid to admit if you are struggling to cope with a chronic illness. Everyone with a chronic illness will once in a while come across really bad days where they just can't cope. You may be surprised at how sympathetic those around you are.

Removing the labels that surround chronic illnesses can be a great help. For example instead of saying "he's diabetic", say "he's a person who happens to have diabetes". Identifying a person by their illness can do more harm than you might think because then the person with the illness ends up identifying themselves as an illness instead of as a person.

Mental Health Foundation
Mental Health Foundation
The Royal College Of Psychiatrists