I’m by no means an authority but it struck me as interesting how different people cope with chronic illness if different ways. I don’t just mean emotional and practical coping strategies – I mean how they invest their energies as a result of having a chronic illness.
Let me illustrate with examples of folks I’ve come across via the web:
Become an activist – Jodi is a bed activist who started her own web site about M.E. to try and give others reliable information about this illness and bring about change. Although she can’t do much in her day to day life she still finds time to devote to her activism because it’s so important to her.
Become a role model – Jenni started a blog about how it was possible to be chronically ill and a babe at the same time. As it grew into the sire that is now ChronicBabe she became a role model for other young women knowing they too can face the challenges of chronic illness and still be beautiful, happy and fulfilled.
Search for medical answers – for many a chronic illness diagnosis is vague and little is offered in terms of treatment. Diagnosis X is still searching for answers as are many others. Some have a firm diagnosis but either challenge their treatment or search for new treatments. I have found more lay people with amazing knowledge of medical research and treatments for specific conditions than I could care to mention and their search for answers amazes me.
Hide your health problems – well, it’s not fair to actually name people in a post like this when they’re doing so much to hide their chronic health conditions! But they exist, they talk quietly and only to a select few about their illness – to the rest of the world they seem able and fit. Some blog anon, some probably don’t even speak of it at all.
Find a cure and share it – some people develop their own methods of treatments and “cures” for chronic conditions and then set out to share them with the world. Some do it freely, others make a little money, others make a lot of money. I’m not naming names as I don’t want to seem to recommend treatments.
Denial – it’s not happening to me. For many of us we go through a natural phase of denial as part of coming to terms with our chronic illness. It persists longer for some than others.
Commit to alternative therapies – challenge your energy into exploring and often re-training in alternative and holistic therapies.
Publicise / fundraise – make it your mission to educate the world about the chronic condition you suffer from and/or take on challenges big and small to fund support and/or research into the condition.
Take it as it comes – those who trot along dealing with their illness on a day to day basis and changing priorities as things shift and change. Some days they greet the world with cheer despite their illness, some days they hide away, some they write letters and emails to anyone who will listen.
Live a normal (ish) life – knowing your illness and yourself live a life that is relatively normal – quietly going about your business. Perhaps (often) changes and adaptations are made to life and working arrangements but their chronic illness is not the loudest or most important aspect of them – especially to those outside their close circle.
For those interested I think I fit a lot of these at different times! Mainly I am currently “Take it as it comes” with aspirations to live a full happy life and inspire others to do the same.
I know there are more ‘models’. I know that many of these overlap. I know I did a sucky job of illustrating examples with links you can go and explore yourself. I know that my ‘models’ are over simplistic.
I’m not even sure what I set out to say! I think I’m interested in how some embrace their illness and make a feature of it, some kick up a fight with all they have, some just get on with it and appear “normal” and others quietly get on with it but illness dominates their lives.
Some of this is not down to choice I realise. Some are luckier than others in the level of suffering, the support around them and maybe even with their strength of character.
I suppose when we’re healthy we’re all different and being chronically ill doesn’t change that. It just sometimes changes our focus a little.
There’s another ….
Forget about labels – and do it your own way