Thursday, November 29, 2007

Living With Invisible Illness: 5 Ways To Let Go Of Hurt Feelings

Yet another amazing article compliments of Lisa Copen from
It's that time of year - Tis the season for things to get especially hectic & it's the perfect time to revisit these 5 golden rules. Hope you find all the energy you need this holiday season! :)

Be Well,

"You look so good! You can't be as bad as you say. You look perfectly
healthy.""You think you have fatigue? Try working full-time plus having four
children! Then you'll know what chronic fatigue is.""I think you're spending too
much time thinking about how you feel. You need to just get out more.""If you
really wanted to get well, you'd at least try that juice drink I gave you last
week. It won't hurt to try it."

And the comments go on and on.

And it hurts.

Nearly 1 in 2 Americans has a chronic illness or physical condition that impacts their
daily life. The definition of chronic illness can include everything from
arthritis to cancer, migraines to diabetes, and back pain to fibromyalgia. Even
mental illness or eating disorders are considered invisible illnesses.

One of the biggest emotional hurdles for people who suffer from daily pain is the
invisibility of it. Statistics tell us that about 96% of illness is
invisible—meaning the person who suffers from the chronic condition may appear
to be a healthy individual but who actually copes each day with physical pain.

If you have an invisible illness here are 5 ways let go of hurt feelings and move
on to a better life:

(1) Let go of expectations. This may be a life-long process,
but you will consistently find that people will always disappoint yo. No one is
perfect—including you! Remember, you don’t understand the difficulties that your
friends are going through, whether it’s a divorce, the death of a loved one, a
loss job, an ill child, etc. Your illness is significant in your life. Even when
people care, they still will have significant things going on in their own
lives. Listen to them share about their challenges too even when you think they
pale in comparison to your own.

(2) Find supportive friends. When you are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired you don’t need to be around people who constantly belittle you or doubt your illness. End that relationship or distant yourself from that relative. Illness has a way of helping prioritize friendships. We don’t need friends that will send us spiraling into depression. Spend your limited energies with those that mean the most to you.

(3) Find joy in your blessings. Rather than thinking about how badly you feel find ways to bring more joy into your life. Appreciate the little things. Many chronically ill people even begin to write poems to help them examine what makes them happy and where their passions lie. You may not be able to garden like you once did, but
you can grow a few plotted flowers or hire a neighborhood teenager to plant some
vegetables and set up an automatic sprinkler system for them.

(4) Use your talents and skills for things you care about. If you’re no longer able to work because of your illness, you may feel like your skills are going to waste. Maybe
you’ve always wanted to write children’s books or be a business consultant. Find
a place to plug in and do some volunteer or part-time work for to be able to use
these skills in an area where you feel passionate. Instead of focusing on what
others aren’t doing or giving you, follow your dreams and give that gift to
yourself. Many people find th advice of a chronic illness coach or counselor
helpful. There are even some 12 step programs for chronic illness available on
the internet.

(5) Encourage someone else. You personally know how hard it is to
live with illness and to feel like no one understands. So take time to be
vulnerable with someone else who is going through this. Whether you meet someone
through an online group such as National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness
Week’s message boards, or through your local support group, volunteer your time
and expertise (yes, you’re an expert on living with invisible illness!) and use
it to make someone else’s journey easier and you’ll find your own is more
enjoyable too. Are you frustrated that no one at your church thinks your
invisible illness is real? Rather than stop going to church, find ways to
educate them, such as a column in the church newsletter or brochures about
National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. These say what to say/not to
say to a chronically ill person.

We can’t change other people, but we can educate them and give gentle advice. Then we much work on ourselves. It’s a delicate balance to find how to live most successfully with chronic illness. You’ll find that even when you want to change it can be difficult. It requires discipline and motivation for a better life. But you owe it to yourself and finding joy in your life despite invisible chronic pain will improve both your mental and physical health.


Get a free
50-page excerpt of Lisa Copen's book, “Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage
a Chronically Ill Friend” when you sign up for the National Invisible Chronic
Illness Awareness Week "Updates" Ezine at . Lisa is the
founder of invisible illness week held annually in September and the author of
various books on living successfully with chronic illness.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for article.I found a cool Utube video too! I posted it on my blog and took it off,don't want anyone to know still.I posted you on my blog too!
Denise PS You don't look sick!

typeawithra said...

thanks so much for posting this interesting info - I've had so many strong feelings about how people treat or deal with my RA & pancreatitis. Sometimes it is so deep and painful and cuts through all else. BTW I've started a blog on RA I wanted to share with you at since I am truly a Type A personality with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I've got your work listed on my blogroll. Thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Nice article to post - I think sometimes dealing with other people's reaction/comments to what we are going through is almost worse than the actual pain! If I had a dollar for every time someone said, oh, but you don't even look sick, I'd fund a cure for Lupus!

Love your blog, sweetie!!