I talk with a lot of people with many different Chronic Illnesses and we have many things in common. While chatting in Online groups on Facebook, one issues seems to be discussed by almost everyone; Chronic Illness related Anxiety. I am one among the many that deal with this issue on a daily basis.
What is Chronic Illness Related Anxiety?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “People who have serious, chronic, or terminal illnesses are at increased risk for experiencing anxiety…”. This organization also states that people who have life long illnesses are 6 times more likely to develop anxiety due to their illness.
Adjusting to life with Chronic Illness is stressful. The changes that illness brings to your life, treatments that have side effects and a decline in quality of life are all contributing factors.
I know, for myself, losing the sense that I have control over my life has been difficult at best. It has been a process similar to grieving. I have lost a lot because of illness.
Anxiety on a “Good Day”
One of the most confusing symptoms of Chronic Illness related Anxiety is being the most anxious on days when we are feeling better. That will definitely sound strange to a healthy person and most will say that we need to “get over it”.
If you have pain or sickness every day, for example, I have Migraine pain and Auras every day. I know how to handle those days. My life is arranged around that pain and sickness with my safety and comfort in mind. I have created a world that can deal with Chronic Migraine.
Now, let’s say that I go several days without that pain. I should be and I am happy about that. But a part of me is growing more and more anxious about it as each pain free moment goes by. Why? Because I am waiting on the floor to drop out from under me. This is a reminder that no matter how I handle unwell days, that I am not in control and I never will be.
This is only one thing that people with Chronic Illness is anxious about. Trying new treatments, decrease in functionality and finding knowledgeable Physicians are among the many things on the list.
4 Ways to Handle Chronic Illness Related Anxiety
1. Talk Yourself Down
When every thought in your mind is racing faster than a car at the Daytona 500, it is time to slow things down. Each person will have their own way of doing this.
What I do is focus on slowing down my breathing. Then I tell myself the truths of the situation. I force myself to face the truth instead of the 5,000 what-ifs in my mind. This works for me every single time.
2. Make a Plan
The thought of making a plan to handle an uncontrollable situation may seem counterproductive. But I find it helps me if I make a plan for how I am going to handle things.
So, I look at the worst case scenario and and make a plan for it. If the worst case happens, I am fully prepared to handle it.
3. Talk to Someone you Trust
For me, this is probably the hardest thing for me to do. It is hard to look weak and to be looked at as weak. Find someone you trust and ask them to be your “go to” person. Explain to this person that you just need someone to listen.
This is the person you will talk to when anxiety is getting the best of you. It is very important to find this person in advance!
4. Find a Positive Way to Spend the Energy
When you have anxiety, your body creates adrenaline. Instead of using this boost of energy to go over every possible scenario in your head, find something positive to do.
This does get tricky with you have Chronic Illness. A lot of well people with go for a walk or run when their anxiety peaks. Many people with Chronic Illness are unable to do this.
Chronic Illness related Anxiety can take over what is left of your quality of life. It is important to be proactive and make a definitive plan to use on days when anxiety is getting the best of you.
- How to be Productive with Chronic Illness
- Medication Dispensers to Make Life Easier
- 5 Steps to Challenge your Mindset