The effects of living with chronic illness
Let's think for a moment about some of the ways that chronic illness can have a ripple effect on your life. Here are just a few...
- Restricts your mobility and energy levels
- Emotional challenges - frustration, anger about your situation
- Stress within your personal relationships at home or work
- Feelings of depression, despair and uncertainty
- Limits your ability to get out and socialise with other people
- Impact on your finances, and ability to work or pursue a career
- Decreased energy levels makes everything difficult
- Symptoms like pain or fatigue dictate your daily life
- A loss of of joy and purpose in your life
Emotional stress and chronic illness
There is a well-established link between long term stress and chronic illness. High levels of stress can trigger or exacerbate conditions like anxiety, fatigue, cardiovascular problems, inflammation, immune and digestive disorders.
Reducing your levels of emotional reactivity to perceived challenges can help you to reduce stress-related symptoms, and to increase your feelings of well-being.
Sounds simple - but one of the main obstacles to creating health related changes is the inability to change habitual patterns of mind, emotions and behaviour.
This is where I come in... I can support you in identifying sub-conscious patterns and emotional reactions which may be keeping you locked in a cycle which is impacting your health. If you are aware of this, but don't quite know how to create the changes that you want, read on...
Why specialist support is important
Acute and chronic illness are fundamentally different...
Acute illness is often associated with a specific physiological disorder - something has malfunctioned - it is often due to a physical abnormality, injury or infection. Acute illnesses of these types are usually best dealt with by a medical doctor.
But chronic illness is quite different - it is uncommon for chronic conditions to be purely physiological in nature. In reality, it is difficult to establish the exact mechanisms which have contributed to chronic health conditions - they are usually due to a complex combination of biological, psychological, social and emotional factors.
How chronic health conditions are approached and treated is also influenced by a variety of factors including the type of training a person has received, their individual perspective, and the beliefs and practices of the society in which they live.
Because chronic health conditions usually have multiple symptoms, there is a tendency for people to focus on one particular symptom at a time. Whilst this can be helpful, it fails to address all of the influencing factors - like mind-body interaction, mental and emotional patterns, coping skills, stressors, energetic vitality, and deeper personal or societal concerns.
A similar problem can emerge when you are choosing which type of therapy to use. When you focus on an individual type of therapy, you change your focus of attention away from solving the issues which are creating, or influencing your condition, and place it onto a specific health model instead. These are two different things.
Most therapists have good intentions, and they want to help you with their particular therapy, no matter what you symptoms you present with. But often their training is in a particular therapy, not in understanding the nature of chronic illness, and so they do not understand the more complex issues which are involved with chronic health conditions.
The way this often plays out is that you can find yourself on a merry-go-round of trying a therapy for a few sessions and then trying another. Unfortunately, this may leave you losing faith in the possibility of ever feeling better. How do you improve your quality of life?
Find a practitioner who also aligns with your approach to health
It's so important to find the right practitioner for you . So, here are a few points to bear in mind when choosing your practitioner...
If you have chronic illness, the best way forward is to find someone who specialises in chronic health issues, and who is also able to recognise when you need additional specialist support, or medical intervention, for specific areas of your health. This requires a certain level of expertise and experience.
Remember that not all practitioners are equal - they all have different training, approaches to health, plus varying degrees of education, professional and personal experience. So, choose someone who has the specialist skills and training that you are looking for.
Likewise, just because someone previously experienced a condition does not mean that they automatically have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of that condition - it's wise to check their qualifications too.
Finally, ensure that you are a good match with your health practitioner. For example, if you are a person who places high value on medication as a remedy for all illness, or if you want someone to fix you, then perhaps consider the possibility that you might not be suited with a practitioner who focuses on taking a more holistic approach to health which requires self-accountability. You will get the best results when you are both have a similar, or compatible, approach to well-being.
Why choose me to support you?
- In addition to working in the NHS in acute care and community clinics, I have also run my own clinics for chronic illness management within GP surgeries. Some of the conditions I have helped people with include diabetes, respiratory illness, cardiovascular issues, stress management, and health-related behaviour change - I have plenty of experience helping people with chronic health conditions.
- I have completed specialist training in recovery from chronic fatigue conditions, including CFS, ME and fibromyalgia. I am also an accredited specialist with the Chrysalis Effect.
- I have personal experience of recovery from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Ask yourself - how well can you ever really understand something if you haven't experienced it yourself? Theoretical knowledge is quite different to experience.
- I have extensively studied the relationship between trauma, emotion, the mind-body connection and chronic health conditions whilst completing my Masters degree, so I have plenty of insight into this subject.
- I focus on the mental, emotional and practical aspects of living with chronic illness - the parts that are usually overlooked, but are so important to your quality of life.
- I approach health from an existential level, so I don't get too caught up in labels and judgements - I prefer to treat people as human beings, not conditions.
- I'm an advocate for self-empowerment. I believe that everyone can improve their quality of life, no matter what their current circumstances.
Here's how I can help...
- Helping you understand the nature of chronic fatigue and illness, the mind-body connection, and how your symptoms relate to each other
- Identifying the underlying thoughts, beliefs, and habits which might be contributing to your ill health - then helping you change them
- Teaching you how to use natural therapies at home to reduce symptoms, improve your levels of energy, and help you feel better
- Helping you to learn practical ways you can take more control over our life and health
- Increasing your levels of resilience
- Reducing pain, tension and fibromyalgia symptoms
- Lowering your levels of stress and anxiety
- Helping you control symptoms like inflammation, digestive problems, sleep issues, and headaches
- Supporting you in improving your relationships and social support
- Practical advice for creating more meaning, purpose and joy in your life
- Mastering your mind and emotions, becoming more present, and less susceptible to the challenges in your life.
Why not book a specialist programme of one-to-one support?
A one-to-one coaching programme will help you to develop the skills needed to improve your quality of life. You will also get individual insights about the areas of your life that are possible to change, and practical support for integrating these changes.
If you are not sure whether coaching is right for you, then please book an introductory, 30 minute clarity call. Then we can discuss any questions you may have and I will give you my honest advice as to which therapy or actions will get the best results for you.