Women In Depth Podcast
Adjusting to Life with Chronic Pain and Illness When Health Improves – Release Date 11/3/17
Have you recently moved passed the hurdle of your medical illness? Are you feeling better now for the most part where you have more energy to interact with others and get back to what you enjoy? In the past, most of your time was put towards doctor appointments, medical treatments and more. But now all of that has lessened. You no longer have to go to the doctor as often, giving you more free time to get back to what it is you enjoy doing most.
Is this an experience you can relate to?
I know I can.
When living with medical conditions, life can take a significant turn. That was the case for me at least and life was put on hold in many ways both personally and professionally. This was how things were for a long time in my life, and it became my new normal. I fought it, resisted it and then learned to acknowledge that this was how life was going to be for a while. With acceptance came new ways of coping which helped me make peace with where I was during that time.
Today I am happy to report that I have made it out of the maze of my own health conditions. While not everything is absolutely perfect with my health, and more work needs to be done, I am truly grateful to have arrived at this place. This stage in life was a process with lots of ups and downs. But now, there is an opportunity to look outward and beyond to see what changes lie ahead.
Change (Away from Medical Illness) is on the Horizon
I know for many people this time of change from medical illness to health is both exciting and scary. Are you getting overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions? Excitement and fear tend to be the ones most people encounter.
Now not everyone does well with change, even when that change is for the better. And while change might be hard to adjust to at first, it usually gets easier with time.
So why might change with your medical illness status be unnerving and uncomfortable?
It all ties into the element of the unknown. While you were sick with a medical illness, there was a set routine that was established and that you could rely upon. And when we have a routine set in place, it provides a sense of safety because we know what to expect. And yes, this even applies to when that routine is all about doctor visits, medical testing, medication management and more.
This routine also includes medical staff, friends, family and others who are there for you when you need them. That could include a support group, a church group or connecting with other families who are impacted by the same medical condition.
But now all of that has changed. Your health has improved to a point where all these supports are no longer needed. The situation has changed and these supports do not match where you are now.
Have you faced this realization?
Realizing this can bring with it a sense of heaviness and a sense of loss. I know for me, I had formed close connections with nurses and doctors and now those interactions would come to an end. Even now thinking about it brings up feelings of sadness and a heaviness in my chest.
This stage of change can take some time to get used to.
It is ok to let yourself off the hook here because it might take a while to sort out how you feel.
In fact, considering all that you have been through with your medical illness, it is only natural to be confronted with feeling happiness, excitement, sadness, fear, loss and more.
So in thinking about this for yourself, what are you noticing?
Bringing attention to what comes up for you both within your body and mind can be a really helpful way to process change.
When thinking about these changes, you may say to yourself….
Now that I am better, what’s next?
Processing the emotions, the worries and the fact that life is going to play out differently from this point on can open up new possibilities. So acknowledging the worry and embracing how you feel and all you have gone through, can help set the stage for taking on this next chapter in your life.
Just Take a Breath and Reassess
Hopefully now you can give yourself the opportunity to slow things down and take a moment to acknowledge all that you have gone through and all that you have achieved.
Taking the time to do this can really help so that you do not get overwhelmed with all the changes taking place. This also helps you to feel less anxious when actually sitting with a new idea or goal that you want to work towards. You might find that a deep breathing practice, or daily affirmations is helping you to feel more calm, connected and focused.
Smaller Goals Lead to Big Goals
Sitting down with what the next steps will be, can often lead us to setting big goals. This is great next step, but we often forget to set the smaller goals that lead us to the larger ones
To avoid this potential pitfall, try setting up incremental goals. Staying focused on those smaller goals help to bring down stress and overwhelm when adjusting to change and setting new goals.
Using Your Inner Strengths
Even though self-doubt will emerge from time to time, reminding yourself of your strengths and accomplishments will help to keep it all in perspective. After all, it is your inner strength and perseverance that has led you to this point in your life. So if that is the case, why would you question it now? This is a time where you get to lean on these resources which have helped you get you to where you are today. So take a breath, acknowledge your past, embrace your present, and become friends with the unknown in what lies ahead.