Living with chronic illness requires a new set of health management skills.
It is unlikely that anyone teaches you these skills or even acknowledges the need for them. Yet they can be vital for finding health within illness and can increase your chances of improvement or recovery.
At a time when you are dealing with the shock of feeling ill, and the losses that come with illness, the last thing you probably want is to learn to do things in a new way.
I expect that all you want to do is be healthy and go back to your old ways!
All I can say is that you may find these skills well worth acquiring:
Happily I am no longer living with chronic illness at a level of being bedbound
with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome /ME.
I am back to being able to walk and talk.
Yet I continue to apply and learn! most of these skills today.
You are here reading this because you are someone who is willing to learn in a time of chronic illness.
You can do it. You can learn health management skills.
Keep making the effort for yourself. You are worth it.
And be gentle on yourself. Always be gentle on yourself.
I hope you find the article helpful.
Other related articles
When I was living with severe disability I could only see a few people.
I needed to put my energy into the relationships which helped me the most and/or drained me the least.
The people in your life who give you the most deserve to have your energy.
And - to put it bluntly - you need these people.
(I define “help you” very broadly. For
example, if it helps your sense of worth to help someone else,
and you are well enough to do so, then it may "help" you to be helpful.)
Sometimes a person may offer practical help , yet it comes at an emotional cost.
Another person may feed you emotionally but not feel able to help in a practical way.
Do your best to work out what is available and what you need.
Click here for an article on romantic relationships and illness
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In the following sections an affirmation is included for coping with chronic illness, for example, I can learn to rest.
This affirmation is followed by a series of “release statements”. These statements begin with the words “It's OK to...”.
Releasing Judgment is a simple practice of forgiveness and permission I developed back in 1993. This simple technique has played a huge role in allowing me to cope with chronic illness.
You can click through for my free ebook which explains more about Releasing Judgment.
If you haven't read the book yet, simply read the release statements and notice
whether you have an emotional response.
If you do, the statement is likely to be one which is relevant to you.
Repeat the release statements as needed to give your conscious and unconscious mind permission to behave in ways which help you to cope well with chronic illness.
If the releases help you, bookmark this page and return here when you need to do so.
It’s OK to rest.
It’s OK not to push yourself as hard as you can go.
It’s OK to recognise that when you take regular rest your symptoms are lower and you have a better quality of life.
It’s OK to recognise that your body needs rest in order to heal.
It’s OK to give your body the rest it needs.
Well done for finding self love and the compassion to be kind to yourself.
Click here for a CFS article on pacing activity.
It's OK to say No.
It's OK to say No to something which you would say yes to in a time of health.
When you are not well enough to do something useful which needs doing, it's OK to say No.
When you are not well enough to engage in a fun activity it's OK to say No.
It's OK to receive help.
It's OK for someone else to receive help.
It's OK for you to receive help.
As well as asking for help from other people, you may want to benefit from the help of disability aids to help you live a bigger life with chronic illness. I live with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I use a mobility scooter.
It's OK to ask for what you need.
It's OK to communicate clearly what you need.
Many people have communication problems as a symptom of CFS/ME.
If you are one of them and need adaptation from others, click through on the link above for advice.
It's OK to find it hard to ask for help and to hear someone say No.
It's OK to feel rejected.
It's OK to feel that the person doesn't care about your well being.
It's OK to receive comfort from the fact that if someone can say No, their Yes must be genuine.
It's OK to be glad that they know how to look after their own needs.
It's OK to be inspired by their example to look after your own needs.
It's OK to feel free to ask again.
Well done for finding the courage to ask for something you need from someone who may say No because they are the only person available.
It's OK to use your judgment and ask for help (when possible) from someone likely to say Yes.
It's OK not to have energy-time for things you used to be able to do.
It's OK to find that in a time of illness you have to prioritise more carefully.
It's OK to feel frustrated if someone doesn't understand that you don't have the energy-time you once had.
It's OK to feel frustrated if someone is disrespectful of the energy-time you have available.
It's OK to DUMP an activity.
It's OK to DELEGATE an activity.
It's OK to DELAY an activity.
It's OK to DO an activity.
Well done that, even when you can't do much, you still find time to do something you what you want to do.
It's OK for someone to do something for someone else.
It's OK for you to do something for someone else.
It's OK for someone to do something for you.
Well done for finding the management skills necessary to organise someone to do something for you.
There is so much more I could say about coping with chronic illness but I hope you have received some helpful permissions here.
Be gentle with yourself.
Stop and praise yourself for all that you do so well under difficult circumstances.
You are learning and you are growing.
Thank you for being you.
Click below to read about my (Katherine's) take on Alternative Healing.