I’m a worrier.
Always have been. I overthink and worry myself restless. With chronic illness, we can have some very specific worries. I think worrying is inevitable but we can, perhaps, worry about things that have possible solutions rather than things we have no control over. I am constantly worrying about things I have no power in. No control over at all. And it is stressful. I have to work on shutting down those thoughts that have no use to me. And instead, plan for how to work on things I have a modest ability to control.
Here are a few of the worries we can have and ways we can try to think about them.
We worry about pending pain
We worry about potential flares. Worry something we do may cause it. If we have something important to do we worry the pain will interfere with it at the worst time possible.
A lot of people worry about flares or things like migraines. I think this worry isn’t one I have because I understand there will be pain, regardless. And I understand it varies. So I hate when the level of pain interferes with what I am doing but I do not worry about pending attacks. Unless it is something I Need brain power for. When I was going to defend my thesis back in the day, I really worried a migraine would impair my capacity to think on my toes. And I have this same worry when I am taking tests for work. That I will be impaired by pain and it will cause me to fail.
- Always be prepared. We tend to be walking medicine cabinets… well that is because we have to be prepared.
- For activities or events rest before and always prepare for recovery time after.
- Understand that we cannot predict attacks and flares and we cannot let this stop us from living our lives. There will be pain. And it will vary. But the possibility of it shouldn’t stop us from doing the things that are important to us.
We worry about the future
This one is hard to escape from due to the unpredictability of pain. We are very aware things could get much worse and this could affect our livelihood and lives. See The unpredictability and downturns of chronic illness
- Don’t stop making long-term goals but be aware and prepare for the potential your health may change in the future.
- Acknowledge change happens. And that we shouldn’t fear downturns in our health, but deal with them as they come.
We worry about money
Illness can affect our career and jobs. We can reduce hours. We can stop working. We can change jobs for our health. Or work at home. Fact is, many of us have income stability and make less than we used to when things get worse. And worrying about money is the worst worry of all. And the guilt that comes with it. How we feel if only we were healthier or pushed through it we wouldn’t have been the cause of the financial stability. It can be a blow to the self-worth as well when we feel we are worthless or a failure due to our inability to work. However, we have to acknowledge these compromises to our jobs and career are often extremely necessary. There is nothing to do about it, but try and cope with less income or be aware income levels will fluctuate due to our health. I have yet to figure out a way to stop worrying about this or to stop blaming myself.
- Work on looking at productivity differently. It isn’t about working or not working but doing things that matter to you within the limits you have.
- Acknowledge your accomplishments in the day. What you can do, not what you can’t.
- Accept the compromises you have made for your health. It had to be done. And where to go from there. Plan for the future, not regret the past.
We worry about being a burden or ‘failing’ our family
The feeling of being a burden is a heavy one. We have to acknowledge that we, ourselves, have value to those that love us. We are not ‘failing’ them or ourselves. Chronic illness isn’t something we have control over, except how we react to it. Blaming ourselves for being ill is one thing we have to change. In any way possible. We have a lot of value as the people we are and our loved ones do not see us like we see ourselves.
- Understand that your loved ones love you for who you are, not what you can do.
- Never blame yourself for being ill. And to this stop thinking about what-ifs or comparing yourself to others or your past self. Have acceptance for who you are now.
- Try to think about the value you have as a person. One way to think about your self-worth is actually listing the things people value about you and what you value about yourself. And list your positive traits.
How to work on worrying is a post I made on this. And I have to practice what I preach because worrying is a constant presence in chronic illness. We have to find ways to properly cope with the stresses of illness. We will worry. I don’t think there is anything we can even do to stop that. But we can acknowledge there are things we can do things about… and things we can’t. We have to cope with what we cannot change, like our health, and not blame ourselves for something out of our control. But there are things we can control. We can work on our coping and acceptance. We can strive for better treatment. We can work on how we think about pain. Our beliefs about ourselves and our self-worth. I have to stop ruminating on worries I have no control over. Those are the worst ones.