Martina Roe: Seven Strategies (1)

Rubrika: Publicistika – Zajímavosti

7 Strategies how to cope with illness or disability

1. Allow yourself time to come to terms with your illness
2. You are not alone – make most of all help and support groups
3. Nurture yourself
4. Learn how you can best help yourself feel better
5. Concentrate on the present, do not dwell in the past or worry about the future
6. Learn how to live a stress free life
7. You are the maker of your own luck

Illness and disability might come in many forms. Some illnesses and disabilities have to be faced from birth; others are developed during people’s lifetime. They can come on suddenly or gradually develop over many years without the person knowing about it. People are usually genetically predisposed but illnesses can also be the result of the polluted environment or the lifestyle we adopt. Coming to terms with any illness is not easy and might take a long time especially when your illness surprises you suddenly.
Imagine that you are happy, your life is going very well and you are very proud of all your achievements. You have got a great family and circle of friends until one day something very unfortunate happens to you. You become ill or have an accident and you can no longer enjoy life as you used to. Suddenly everything seems to be falling apart. All kinds of scenarios may come up; you might no longer be in a position to support your family financially, you could lose your job, simply your dreams are falling apart. This is the hardest time and naturally you will be down about it, yet with a few changes you might still be able to live your life to the full. The following easy steps should help you in the right direction.

1. Allow yourself time to come to terms with your illness

I understand fully how you feel. The whole world is upside down and you are in the middle of it, believing life will never be the same again with you just being miserable fighting your illness or disability. You might lose the people close to you because you will no longer be able to socialize as you used to. But this is also the time to find out who your real pals are. They will be there to support you and do anything that is in their strength. They will, however, not feel sorry for you forever and you will have to find out soon that if the only topic of conversation is your illness, with time even your kind hearted friends will lose interest.

It is also important for you to judge, whether your acquaintances are honest with you. Even though it might not be obvious to you at first sight some of your comrades could be taking advantage of you and drain you emotionally. I know people who, while depressed, used to look for emotional support from their friends. Their relationship was established and a mutual trust existed between both parties. These buddies actually used to say hurtful things which were making their mates even more depressed even though they did not realise it at that time. They would also make false comments about my father with a view to manipulate his decision and opinion. Naturally it was not very nice to hear lies about my father, but I was on top of things, so just ignored them. My pals, however, were not able to realise it at that time but later when they were able to see matters more realistically interrupted their relationship. I do not really understand why people want to hurt others, but we are encountering this all the time. We laugh at an obese person, make stupid comments and recommend losing weight... Naturally such a person is doing their best, but it takes time, others should realise this and make no such sarcastic comments.

Zdeněk Hajný: Hlubina poznání Thinking positively is no easy matter but it is important to be enthusiastic about life again. There are only two choices for you to make. You can continue being depressed and complain about your problems for the rest of your life or you have the option of trying to make most of your life even with all your limitations. We all know that cancer patients who remain positive live longer than those who become very depressed. The same applies to any chronic illness or disability. I know cases of people who eventually drank themselves to death. If they took a more positive approach to life they could still have been enjoying the small beautiful things which remained to them.
Allow yourself time to let all the negative emotions to go first. It is good to know that there are people who you can talk to such as psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, but also family and friends. I found the help of a counsellor especially helpful at the stage of my life when I myself became ill and could no longer achieve my own dreams and goals. I was always very ambitious and performed very well at school. Everyone thought highly of me and believed I would do very well in my life. While at primary school my tutor took me to one side and wanted to convince me to put down a grammar school as my first choice rather than a business academy. I remember people did not approve when I chose not to go to University.

But I had my own reasons. My parents were older so I knew they could not support me while studying for very long and then I was very keen to start my own life. But I came back to studying after I had my children, when I studied part time with the Open University. I wanted to become a teacher of modern foreign languages but unfortunately an illness stopped me from pursuing my ambitious plans. I found it very difficult to accept my new situation. I felt frustrated because I knew, I was not getting better; my illness was to stay forever. I kept asking myself why did this have to happen to me, why is life so cruel? But today I know that there is no point asking such questions.

When I was about 8 years old my mother went with her friends to see a healer who was making a diagnosis from the retina of the eyes. She made an absolutely accurate diagnosis to everybody and recommended herbal treatment. I myself was not supposed to have an appointment but as I was already there with them my mother asked the healer to look at my eyes as well. As a young child I was constantly ill and on antibiotics with pneumonias, ear infections or tonsillitis and was therefore slightly worried or had a bad feeling about what the healer would read from my eyes. She then said that while I was healthy at that moment one day I would become ill. I never took these words very seriously, what was important for me was that at that very moment I was well. But when my illness became unmanageable, I realised that the healer was right and that I could not do anything about it. I have already known for years that I was ill, but I never took it seriously and tried to overcome the illness by living my life in exactly the same way as everybody else by achieving my goals, doing what I enjoyed and not thinking of the illness. But unfortunately I was not listening to my body and went on even though the warning signals were constantly there. I was not well at all and therefore should have taken everything easier and slowed down in all my activities. At the end my body arranged it in such a way that I was so sick, I really could not do anything else and it took me about 4 years to recover. That was possibly the only way my body had to ensure that I survived it all. All I had left was to accept the illness and start a new life.

At that difficult time of my life it was really good to talk. I was aware, however, that conversations with my family and friends just became dominated by my illness and arranged counselling. My counsellor could understand my problems better than anybody else. I could not comprehend why anything so unfortunate had to happen to me. I never did anything wrong, to the contrary I always thought of others before I thought of myself. But my counsellor and others told me not to think like that. It is just the way life is and there is no point trying to find an answer why. The important point to realise though is that illness is not a punishment of something wrong you have done. My counsellor also told me to enjoy and appreciate the good things in my life that I still have and I always think of that because I have many great things to enjoy in my life that help me to forget the hard side of life.

The process of accepting your illness or disability can be a long one. It is absolutely normal to feel depressed but you will soon start to realise that feeling sorry for yourself will get you nowhere. You still have a life that you can enjoy; you can review what your strengths are and what you can still do. Now is the time not to dwell in the past but concentrate on the things you can still do in the future. Consider all your strengths and the qualifications you have. Seek the help of a career advisor who will be more than happy to help you find a suitable job you might still be able to do bearing in mind your limitations. I shall come back to your career opportunities in strategy number 7.

• Take time to accept your new situation
• Talk about your problems – if necessary seek help of a professional counsellor
• Start to think of your strengths rather than concentrate on your weaknesses
• Rethink your career opportunities 

Další díly najdete zde

obraz © Zdeněk Hajný: Hlubina poznání

Copyright © Martina Roe

Tento článek byl v Pozitivních novinách poprvé publikován 28. 01. 2009.