How is it going?
I hear a lot of stories from clients who are fed up with the changes that they have had to make in their daily lives to accommodate their chronic condition — or their caregivers, who are worried about them. Many of these stories are heartbreaking, especially when the person sharing the experience is so frustrated and overwhelmed that they are not sure if the benefits are worth the struggles of their daily grind.
Here are some of the frustrations I hear about the most:
“The routine has become boring and I miss my old life.”
“The side effects are difficult to live with.”
“After putting myself through this every day, I am not sure if I am feeling any better.”
“I am tired of feeling different from everybody else. I want to be normal again.”
“My family is tired of being inconvenienced by me.”
So I will ask you again: how is it going? Not feeling so okay about your treatment and self-care regimen? Maybe having some down days? Trying to get over the insensitive comment someone made? Here are some ideas to consider to help you stay on the path:
Be part of a community. Traveling alone can get lonely. Talk to others who have been diagnosed with your condition. Learn what they do to stay on the path. Share some tips. Give each other some encouragement. Support is power.
Focus on what’s good in your life. It might help to make a list on the blessings in your life and then review your list during those times when you are feeling especially discouraged. And yes, your treatment regimen presents some challenges, sure. But what’s the upside? Is your regimen contributing toward maintaining what’s good in your life? The cup may feel half empty, but it is also at least half full.
See if anything needs to be tweaked. It may be time to update your regimen in some way. Or to adjust your day to day life management, diet, activities, schedules. Burnout can also be a sign that something in your regimen needs to be evaluated and potentially changed for the better. Update your education. Have a conversation with your doctor.
Don’t let other people make you feel bad about yourself. Nobody asks to have a chronic condition or to face the daily challenges that come along with it. You certainly didn’t. Educate and reassure your family members and friends as much as they will allow you to. Get support from people who can be supportive. And maybe it’s time to stop expecting support from the people who can’t give it to you.
Maintain your perspective. Staying on the compliance path is a one step at a time, one day at a time, process. But humans have a tendency to do a lot of “what if-ing” and “awful-izing.” Our minds can create a bleak future, filled with scary possibilities but devoid of the facts, which can lead to that “why bother?” question. We only know what we can know. Today. Taking the best care of yourself is the best you can do for yourself. Today. Flood the fear with facts.
Consider the alternative. Okay, maybe it’s time for some tough love. If all else fails, bring in the heavy artillery. Remaining compliant is most likely preventing symptoms from recurring, and possibly helping to prevent further problems down the road. And it allows you to be the best you can for yourself and the people you care about. In that way, your regimen is similar to an insurance policy.
Take care of your emotions. When you aren’t feeling good physically, you go to a doctor. When you feel overwhelmed emotionally, then this is a good time to reach out to a mental health professional. Don’t go through this alone. Find a safe place to talk about your feelings, including the “bad” ones. Yes, it’s okay to vent.
But also keep mind that staying compliant with your medication and self-care regimen is not only the result of whether you are “feeling it” or not. Taking the best possible care of yourself is a rational decision. And I know that on those days when you are feeling your worst, or when it’s hardest to be complain, it’s hard not to ask the “why me?” question. But staying complaint is a decision that you make and that you decide to stick with, even on those days when it’s the last thing you want to do. You do it because you do it.
So most of all…
Remind yourself – every day – that you are worth all the work and all the inconvenience. It hasn’t always a party but you’ve been doing it so far. Why not to commit to the future – to doing everything you can do so that you can be everything that you can be?
Place your own self-care at the top of your list of priorities. After all, that’s what makes all the good things in your life that much more possible!