Posts Tagged ‘upset’

Do you need to take a time-out?

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

More than many others, those of us with chronic illnesses often get frustrated, discouraged, or upset because of how our illnesses affect our families and our relationships with others, because of all the things we want to do but no longer can, because we often face an uncertain future, and because of numerous other reasons as well.

One thing you can do that has worked well for many people with chronic illnesses—including me—is to give yourself a time-out.

Now as I’m sure you know, time-outs are often used by parents and teachers to discipline children that are misbehaving, and to give them some time to think about their behavior. So I want to make it very clear that I’m not suggesting that you discipline yourself.

Rather, what I am suggesting is that if you get upset, discouraged, or frustrated for any illness-related reasons, that instead of staying that way that you caringly, lovingly, and compassionately give yourself a time-out.

During your time-out, you can listen to music you enjoy, read a book, take in the beauty of flowers or a sunset, or just relax.

At the end of your time-out (and you get to decide how long to make it), the situation that prompted your feelings may still exist, but chances are that your negative feelings about it will be much less than they were.

Best wishes using this and the suggestions in my other posts to have a Happy New Year and your best life possible!

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Tom Robinson, who has Crohn’s disease himself, helps people with chronic illnesses mend their broken spirits and then he helps them find inspiring dreams – and achieve them!

It’s Never Wrong To Be Upset Or Scared

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Even though I have Crohn’s disease, I belong to support groups for people with other diseases. I joined them to learn more about what life is like for people who have different illnesses and also to give suggestions that I think will help others in the group. One group I belong to is for people with Still’s disease (Still’s is an inflammatory disease that can affect the joints, tissues, and organs).

A woman in the group  wrote that she had recently been diagnosed with Still’s. She said that she was familiar with that illness because a cousin whom she was close to had it for many years and died from it in his early 30’s.

Karen, as I’ll call her, wrote that some of her family members responded in a belittling way, saying that “Still’s is just a fancy name for plain old arthritis.” She said she felt hurt because those family members were dismissive of her year-long struggle to get a diagnosis for her night sweats, rashes, and crippling pain. (As an aside, “just plain old arthritis” can be very painful, and I would feel very hurt if I had it and didn’t get any compassion or understanding from my family.) Karen asked the others in the group if she was wrong for being upset and scared.

I hear that question from time to time from people with chronic illnesses, and my answer to Karen is always the same: No. Make that a very loud and clear NO!!

Having a chronic illness often makes our lives difficult and unpredictable, so it’s very understandable that a person who was diagnosed with one would become upset and scared. And given the fact that Karen’s cousin died from Still’s disease, I would be very surprised if she wasn’t scared when she learned she had the same illness he did.

So the answer to the question: Is it wrong to be upset and scared after being diagnosed with Still’s disease—or any other chronic illness—is no. But a much more important question for Karen to ask is: How do I deal with my feelings of being upset and afraid, and how do I take care of myself?

While she didn’t ask those questions directly, she asked for support from other members of the group, and she received several supportive replies. She was given the reassurance that Still’s disease is different for everyone who has it, so the fact that her cousin died from it was not an indication that she will too. She also received some good ideas for educating her non-supportive family members (who very  likely responded the way they did because of feelings of helplessness and discomfort that they weren’t aware of).

But one thing she didn’t receive were any suggestions to give herself lots of compassionate hugs because of all that she had gone through, because of how little understanding she got from her family, and because of how painful and difficult her symptoms were. I’ve seen “self-administered hugs” make a very big difference for lots and lots of people (as it has for me). So I hope Karen heeds my suggestion to do that. I hope you will too. And to learn about some other ways to take care of yourself when you have a chronic illness, I encourage you to read my free report: How to Have a Chronic Illness – Without Letting Your Chronic Illness Have You.

How You Are Isn’t As Important As How You Feel

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

If you are reading my blog, chances are you have a chronic illness. And if I asked you how you are, you would likely tell me that you’re sick, that you’re having a flare, that you’re in pain, or something like that. Because I’m a life coach for people with chronic illnesses, I have asked many people that question and have gotten many answers similar to the ones I just mentioned.

But when I ask people with chronic illnesses how they feel, I get answers that aren’t at all the same or similar. Some people say they feel bad, depressed, upset, or sad, while others say that they feel good, positive, grateful, optimistic, and things like that. I find myself wondering why some people with chronic illnesses feel good while others don’t, and wondering even more about what those who feel those negative emotions can do to feel more of the positive ones.

Before I continue, I want to say that I don’t consider it to be a sign of weakness for a person to feel bad or sad when he or she has a chronic illness. Since having a chronic illness very often means 1) living with pain and fatigue, 2) not being able to things that we enjoy and used to be able to do, and 3) not being able to explain to others what living with our illness is like so they understand it, it’s completely understandable that a person with a chronic illness would feel depressed, upset, etc.

But even though feeling negative emotions is understandable, I have no doubt that most of us who live with a chronic illness would choose to FEEL better if we could. And the truth is that we can. There are many things we can do – so many that I could write a book. Actually, I am writing a book, and I’ll let you know when it’s available so you can get it if you want to.

In the meantime, here are a couple of ways you can FEEL better even though you have a chronic illness and aren’t well:

The first is to recognize that feelings, including negative ones, are transitory. They come and they can go, but only if we let them. One thing you can do is to imagine that you’re a house, and that feelings come in with the wind through an open window. If the window on the other side of the house is closed, the feelings will stay, but if you visualize yourself opening that other window, the feelings will pass through and leave.

The second way is not for everyone, but many of you will find it very helpful. That is to schedule a time each day for negative feelings – for example, from 2:00 until 2:15 every afternoon. If you notice yourself having negative feelings before that time, just set them aside until then. And any negative feelings after 2:15 are to be set aside until the following afternoon.

While these ideas won’t directly improve your health, they can be a great help in lifting your feelings. I will share more ideas in a later post. If you would like some suggestions for your own challenges, you can sign up for one of the limited number of no cost introductory “How to Have a Better Life” coaching sessions I offer.

I’ll close by saying Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Holidays everyone!