living in denial of your chronic illness

Living in denial of your chronic illness

I am the queen of denial. I love to believe if I ignore my problems they will just go away. For example, one of my closest friends is moving clear across the country in a few weeks. I haven’t confronted the issue yet, because I know when I do I will probably have a major breakdown. So for right now I’m trying to enjoy the time we have left and not think about the future in any sort of way because the thought of the future is majorly depressing. I’m so awesome at dealing with my feelings.

I’m also a professional at denying my illness. I like to pretend that it’s not there, and that it’s a problem I can set aside and ignore. When I’m in denial I can go have fun with my friends and be a normal person. I can do things a sick person shouldn’t be able to do. The problem is that reality always comes back to bite me. Because the truth is that I’m not normal and I’m not healthy. Intellectually I know this, but there is always a part of me that enjoys pretending. I like pretending that I can do everything everyone else does, and I like living a fake life even if it’s only for a few hours at a time.

Unfortunately, in the long term denial makes my physical and mental health worse. Inevitably if I go out and pretend I’m just fine I overextend myself. The result is that it takes me days or even weeks to recover. The enforced recovery time then makes me miss out on things, which then makes me depressed. A part of me knows this so I’m working on recognizing my feelings of both despair and hope so that I can finally get to a place of acceptance. There is a lot of power in acceptance. As difficult as it can be to reach that point, when we finally accept our limitations we can feel peace.

Acceptance is not being weak and it is not giving up. Acceptance in human psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation. It’s not approving of the situation or submitting to it. Acceptance is not something that is forced on us, it is a choice, the powerful choice that we can make to take control of our lives. We may have no control over our illness, but we can control how we react to it.

That’s easier said then done of course because I’ve been struggling with acceptance for five years. A lot of that has to do with my extreme stubbornness and refusal to confront the issue. I like to control everything and not being able to control what’s happening to my body is pretty much my worst nightmare. For now I’m focusing on not trying to control my disease. I do what I can do to improve the outcome by eating right, exercising the right way, and taking the right medications.  After that though, I accept that the outcome is out of my hands. I will have to adjust and adapt to whatever life or my disease brings me.

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2 thoughts on “Living in denial of your chronic illness

  1. I'm definitely still learning that I can't do what I used to do, and like you, sometimes I pretend I'm who I used to be w/ bad consequences. The other day, I was trying to figure out errands and such, and I had this big list in my mind. "Oh, I need to stop there, and this store has a sale that I'd like to hit, and I'd really like to go there…" I was two stops in when I had to acknowledge that I had maybe another 30 more minutes or so in me before I'd need to head home. In the past, I could've shopped and run errands for 8 hours straight w/ no problem. It gets disheartening sometimes. I miss not having to think about limits. Thank you for sharing.

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