Your Mental Health #AtoZChallenge
When discussing the issues of chronically ill people, some of the topics most thought of include physical health, access to affordable and appropriate healthcare, and general accessibility. A very important, if not overlooked, topic is the mental health not only of the chronically ill person, but those who may help to care for them. All too often mental health gets significantly less attention than ones physical health, and is often less likely to be as available through medical insurance.
Our mental health often gets pushed from the forefront for a variety of reasons. One reason could be denial. One may have the mindset that mental health will simply improve when physical health either improves or at least levels out. This is a dangerous approach not only because your mental health is important to your physical health (and vice versa), but also because denying ones problems generally doesn’t work.
Maybe those in your life don’t understand your physical health challenges. They may either intentionally or unintentionally make comments that further degrade your mental health. Comments about how all you do is “sit around”, or how you never do anything anymore. Often not intentionally meant to hurt you, they can be born of a lack of understanding about your health.
Other reasons you may experience these comments could include inability to understand fluctuations in your health and associate limitations. In some cases, a loved one could even become extremely frustrated or resentful of you and the added stress of your illness. Maybe the loved one who resents you is your spouse? But you are unable or unwilling to leave as they have stuck by you nearly your entire life. Maybe you now feel that it would be best for them if you weren’t there anymore to make their life more difficult.
Most of the above reasons can be addressed through quality, open, and honest communication. Be careful not to do this in the heat of the moment, as it will often not resolve anything. Attempt to address their concerns as legitimate. Be sure to point out that you are all doing the best you can in a difficult situation. Explain (nicely!) that the comments make you feel even worse, and may make you less willing to make the decision to attempt to do things that will knowingly cause you pain. Maybe you’ve been trying to do what you can to help out with household chores. But when you hear these comments, it is extremely difficult to make yourself want to endure the physical pain of standing to vacuum, if you feel like it won’t make a difference anyhow.
I recently heard the story of a local young woman who suffered a terrible, and permanent injury. Her only choice when she was discharged from inpatient care was to move in with a family member. This particular family member is reported to be extremely emotionally abusive. Try as she might, this young woman has been unable to find any available resources to help her due to the level of care she requires.
While I certainly do not purport myself to know all the answers, I can tell you that it is imperative to do everything in your power to ensure not only your physical health, but your mental health. Many conditions can be aggravated by depression including your ability to perform physical activity when you are able.
It is necessary to ensure you get appropriate mental health care. This is regardless of whether that care includes psychological or even psychiatric treatment with medications. Sometimes just talking to a knowledgeable and experienced psychologist can give you a viewpoint you hadn’t thought of. By keeping an open mind, you can often learn more constructive ways to manage the negative feelings without emotionally degrading yourself. Above all else, if you are in some sort of abusive situation, you need to seek out any and all available resources in an attempt to remove yourself from the potentially dangerous situation.
Have you had a loved one make negative comments that hurt you? How did you work through it? We would love to hear your story and how you overcome the emotional challenges of your chronic health battles! Please share with us in the comments below.