Things to consider if you’re overwhelmed by the thought of being sick or in pain the rest of your life
1.You don’t need to live the rest of your life all at once. You only need to survive this minute, this second.
2. Pain is just one component of your experience. It influences, but does not define who you are, the good you can do for the world, the things you can accomplish, or the joy you can feel.
3. It’s ok to be scared or angry about the future. Your feelings are never wrong, and there is nothing wrong with you for having them. But you can question the thoughts behind them. Illness is very unpredictable, and things might be better than you expect
- There might be breakthroughs in treatment of your condition. Medicine is moving really fast, and there are even drugs being developed that treat the underlying cause of genetic illnesses, like one approved for cystic fibrosis this year.
- There might be a breakthrough in management of your condition. Pain management is a relatively new field, and is quickly improving. Pain, recovery times, and outcomes from things like surgical procedures are getting better quickly.
- You might have a personal breakthrough. Maybe you get a new (correct) diagnosis that leads to better treatment, have success with an existing treatment, or identify a trigger for existing problems. Maybe a brace or mobility device you haven’t tried reduces your pain level and gives you new freedom. Maybe it’s a combination of lots of things, each helping a little bit.
4. Your perspective and ability to handle your illness might change dramatically. When I got sick at 17 I found it intolerable, and dreaded living the rest of my life that way. Today I’m 21 and feel SO differently. I still have pain but I’m happy, I enjoy myself, I love my life. Many things get easier to handle as you mature, and we are resilient creatures. Things won’t always seem this hard.
5. Try to turn your fear into savoring what you still have in the present moment. If you fear losing the ability to do or enjoy something in the future, trying to really savor it now. Don’t let your fear of losing it in the future keep you from doing it now. Create lots of good memories for later. Focus on your gratitude for still having this thing. Really enjoy all the little details when you’re in the middle of it.
Hot damn. This is some serious slam-dunk advice.