By Toni Bernhard J.D.in Psychology Today.
When I began to write for Psychology Today over seven years ago, one of the first articles I posted was called “10 Tips from 10 Years Sick.” It’s seven years later. A lot has happened in my life, but there’s been one constant: chronic illness, including chronic pain. Since 10 + 7 = 17, it’s time for “17 Tips from 17 Years Sick.”
1. Grief is a natural reaction to chronic illness.
My online dictionary provides a short and succinct definition of grief: “deep sorrow.” Most people don’t associate grief with illness. In my experience and in the experience of countless people who have written to me, grief is not just present when chronic illness first settles in, but comes and goes, comes and goes. The first few years of chronic illness wouldn’t have been as hard for me had I known that grief is a natural response to any sudden, unexpected loss in life.
Looking back on the past 17 years, it now seems obvious that losing my ability to freely function would trigger grief at times, yet it took me many years to understand and accept this. When I finally did, it was emotionally healing.
2. Listen to what your body is telling you.
This tip, like many of the others in this piece, applies to both physical and mental illness. If your body is telling you to rest, find a way to rest as soon as you can. If it’s telling you that a slow walk around the block would feel good, take that walk. Before I got sick, I hardly ever listened to my body. Now it has my ear all the time.
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