I think one of the most difficult parts of being chronically ill has been the effect it’s had on my self-esteem. That probably sounds very strange, given that chronic illness comes with a whole slew of physical, mental and emotional challenges that might seem to take precedence over something that seems less immediately problematic like how I value myself.
Don’t get me wrong, the physical symptoms are awful and have caused me too many breakdowns to count at this point. I also have many worries about what my future may be like, how quickly my diseases may progress, how my family and I will handle all my medical expenses and so on. But outside of these more obvious worries, I’ve realized that many of my other mental or emotional struggles since becoming sick seem to be related to my lowered self-esteem.
Before explaining why I feel that self-esteem issues are often the basis for many of the mental and emotional struggles that result from chronic illness, I should explain why chronic illness affects one’s self-esteem so greatly. I feel that we often take our bodies for granted until we get sick. When healthy, we fail to recognize and acknowledge just how much our physical ability contributes to our sense of self. Think about it this way: when describing ourselves to others, we frequently begin by describing what we do – as a job, for a hobby – it’s all about action. Think about how many times someone has asked you, “So what do you do?”
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