Today I am sharing some of the Survival tactics that I have used over the past almost 9 years, as I moved through the uncharted waters of living with a Chronic Illness in my household.
Honestly, I had to Suck It Up for a long time while dealing with His Illness and the Impact to his Health.
In 2007 we welcomed 2 important changes into our lives. Our youngest daughter in February, and my husband’s Chronic Neuro-Muscular Illness in March.
The First was a happily welcomed event, and ran smoothly.
The Second arrived unexpectedly, and resulted in 7 months of him being transferred between 3 hospitals, ICU, recovery, and then rehabilitation. He came home a changed man, both physically, and mentally.
While you can prepare for the arrival of a child, managing a life changing health event to your spouse, parent, or child is something different. I remember the panic, the feeling of not being able to help, and letting my mind wander to how now all of our plans would no longer be possible. Mourning the loss of our dreams as I massaged his legs for blood flow and to help prevent blood clots. He was 34, and I was 33. We had 3 daughters, 7, 4, and 7 weeks old at that time.
I went into Survival Mode, and often still am in this mode today.
If you are the spouse, child, or parent of a person with a chronic illness, you will have to do this as well to help yourself survive mentally. You cannot forget yourself, and what you need to do and accept with this new challenge. While the illness is not happening to you physically, it is now a part of the life you have.
1 – Get Informed
There are many sources of information to learn about the chronic illness that your loved one is facing. You will want to consider the possible treatments, medications, nutrition, functional medical options, and to understand the chronic illness itself. Make sure to use reliable sources. Work with the right people, and remove negative supporters from your lives.
I found that understanding this new member of our household made me more patient, and understanding. But it also helped me to challenge and consider the best options for him. I could not control the chronic illness, so I wanted to understand it.
2 – Let Go!
So, while you cannot control the chronic illness, or how your loved one will respond to the medications and treatments, you can control yourself. Stop trying to control everything. This will make you very stressed, and will burn you out in the long run. Maybe this will include no longer dusting, or some daily tasks, but give yourself some slack.
You will need to adjust as this chronic illness keeps throwing new challenges to you. So, control your reactions and do your best to anticipate by educating yourself, as mentioned in tip 1. Mistakes will be made as you go through trial and error, and forgive yourself for these.
3 – Stop the Blame Game
You, and your loved one, are not being punished. The chronic illness has probably been in their body for some time, and flying under the radar. Awaiting the right trigger to become symptomatic and an active part of your life.
Allow yourself and your loved one the opportunity to vent the frustration over the changes, without placating them.
You need to be heard.
They need to express it, without feeling that their anxiety is out of place.
You may wish to seek professional help to deal with the anxiety and depression that often comes with chronic illnesses, or as a side effect of some of the medications and treatments.
Understand that when your loved one gets angry and expresses it, you may be on the receiving end, but you are not to blame. It hurts, and there are times you will want to fight back. In all honestly, it is not you they are angry with deep down. They are mourning and adjusting to their limitations, which is not an easy transition.
4 – Find Daily Inspiration
In my case, this was my children at first. I would look at my youngest daughter, and think of the miracle of her. How fighting to keep my stuff together was important to her, and her sisters.
These days it is the people that I meet in my business that I feel inspired by. Helping them, and hearing their stories. I remember when I felt that lack of hope, and am so happy to help ease this for others.
But it can come from sayings, books, support groups, and family. You need to feel positive about yourself, and that the world is full of possibility. Do not let the chronic illness define your daily life. Accept that it is part of it, and learn how to make time for yourself, and to enjoy the small things.
Focus on the Short term
Set Manageable Goals
Find a Support Group
Adjust your Budget
This is an important change to your life, and theirs. If you are in it for the long haul, take the measures you need to, to survive, and ideally achieve the dreams that you thought you had to give up. You cannot help your loved one if you do not help yourself first. Be well.