Living with an acute or chronic illness
- Have you or a significant other recently been diagnosed with an illness?
- Has illness imposed unexpected changes in your personal, couple or family life?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed by a diagnosis and living with feelings of uncertainty about what follows?
- Are you feeling as though an overall sense of normalcy has disappeared?
- Do you find yourself feeling disbelief, questioning your sense of self and direction of your future?
- Are role changes adding stress to your life and that of your family’s?
- Has your social and work life been affected?
- Have financial pressures increased?
- Do you find yourself exhausted by managing multiple medical appointments while simultaneously learning about a medical system unfamiliar to you?
- Do you believe that illness has imposed a burden on those you love?
- Do you feel overwhelmed by multiple care giving responsibilities?
Illness can not only affect all facets of your life but also impact on the quality of your relationships with family members, friends, colleagues and community life. Coping with the new realities of a disease may introduce a sense of helplessness given the loss of control experienced following a diagnosis. Fears around what the future holds in light of a disease, may lead to questioning future goals established prior to diagnosis.
Illness can interfere with your usual way of functioning. This reality can wear down on your confidence levels and belief in being able to accomplish things you once did easily. In light of this, you may begin to doubt your abilities as you begin to consider and adopt new ways of living. Adjusting to changes in independence levels may in turn lead to an increased dependence on your support network. Learning to ask for what you need and how those around you can provide assistance is of significant importance throughout your adaptation process.
There are several treatment options available when exploring how illness has altered your life and that of your loved ones. Individual, couple and\ or family therapy treatment models can be recommended, based on the challenges identified by the individual seeking consultation. A combination of these models can be used to support a couple or family working through the healing process.
Regardless of the treatment approach, the focus of therapy is to develop awareness around your illness and how it has changed your personal, work, social, couple and family life. Understanding feelings of disbelief, loss, anger, guilt, doubt, and despair can minimize confusion around your experience and help you move forward. Counselling can assist you in identifying sources of stress, anxiety and sadness that may surface as you work towards redefining a new sense of self. Pursuing therapy can positively influence your overall physical and emotional well being, introducing a renewed sense of hope.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
- Talk to others about the changes in your personal, couple and family life
- Plan activities that provide a distraction, recreating a sense of normalcy
- Ask for help from support network whether you are an individual affected by a disease and\ or significant other
- Identify feelings that surface in order to begin making sense of how illness has affected you and those around you
- Access local support groups available through community organizations that allow for opportunities to share with others affected similar circumstances
- Contact local association that has been established specifically for a given illness. This organization may provide useful educational materials and seminars that can help answer questions most often asked