Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Coping With Chronic Illness - Other People Have Problems Too

Everything seems to be hard for me and requires a lot of thought and planning.  For goodness sake, washing my hair requires a plan of action and plenty of time afterward to rest.  Because everything is harder and requires more thought it is easy to become self -centered, focusing only on what I need and want, thinking only about what is happening to me.  

Also, illness often brings isolation.  Keeping my own company so much makes it easy to think only of myself.   

One problem with being too concerned with ME  is that I tend to downplay other people’s problems.  I never think they are as bad or important as mine.  This is simply untrue and unfair.  Their problems are usually just as valid and often very painful and frustrating.   

I am not the only one with difficult circumstances.  Remembering this helps me put things back in perspective.  And it helps me decide what sort of person I want to be.  I want to be the sort of person who is compassionate, kind, and who helps others through their hard times.  And I can do this even though I am ill.

In order to be a friend I have to really think about others and what they need.  I also have to decide what I am able to give.  I obviously cannot fill every need, and I couldn’t even if I was well.  But I can do something.  

Can I offer some encouragement or commend them?  Can I write a letter to someone who is sick, depressed, or grieving?  Can I give them some of my time or do I have an experience or a skill they could use?  Can I send a card or call?  Can I give a gift that will fill a need?  (Online shopping is awesome, but can become addictive and deplete both wallet and time.)  Often all they really want or need is someone to talk to.  Can I listen?

I am very forgetful (brain fog / cognitive dysfunctions).  When I think of someone who is having a hard time or whom I would like to connect with, I write it down.  Then, I can slowly work through my list in my own time.  Ultimately I am happier, less anxious, and more engaged with life when I make time to think about other people instead of focusing solely on myself.  And it is good for me to realize that I am not the only one who counts.

What about you?  Do you have any thoughts on this subject?


  1. One of my favorite books The Art of the Handwritten Note helps me to keep things simple. I struggle to find just the right words to express myself and that can keep me from sending notes while I have them on my mind. The same thing is often true of gifts. Keeping it simple is often best.

  2. Thank you for sharing Emily. I love that book too! And that is a practical suggestion.