Women In Depth Podcast

Adjusting to Life with Chronic Pain and Illness When Health Improves – Release Date 11/3/17

Over the Hurdle of Medical Illness: How Do I Adjust to Life Now?

Have you recently moved passed the hurdle of your medical illness?  Are you feeling better now for the most part?  Do you find that you have more energy to interact with others and get back to what you enjoy?  In the past, most of your time was put towards doctor appointments, medical treatments and more.  But now all of that has changed.  You have fewer medical appointments, giving you more time to get back to what it is you enjoy doing most.

Is this an experience you can relate to? 

I know I can.

When living with medical conditions, life can take a significant turn.  That was the case for me, and life was put on hold in many ways both personally and professionally.

This was how things were for a long time in my life, and it became my new normal.  I fought it, resisted it and then learned to acknowledge that this was how life was going to be for a while.

By acknowledging where life was for me during that time, it helped me to adapt and learn new ways of coping.

It allowed me to make peace with where I was during that time.

Today I am happy to report that I have made it out of the maze of my own health conditions.  While not everything is absolutely perfect with my health, and more work needs to be done, I am truly grateful to have arrived at this place.  This stage in life was a process with many ups and downs.  But now, there is an opportunity to look beyond to see what lies ahead.

Change (Away from Medical Illness) is on the Horizon

I know for many people this time of change from medical illness to health is a combination of unease and relief.  Overwhelm, excitement and fear tend to be the ones most people encounter.

Now not everyone does well with change, even when that change is for the better.  And while change might be hard to adjust to at first, it usually gets easier with time.  
So why might change with your medical illness status be unnerving and uncomfortable?

It all comes down to the element of the unknown. While you were sick with a medical illness, there was a set routine that had been established.  You knew what to expect within a range of a new normal.

That set routine when chronically ill, provides a sense of safety because you know what to expect.  And yes, this even applies to when that routine is all about doctor visits, medical testing, medication management and more.

This routine also includes medical staff, friends, family and others who are there for you when you need them.  That could include a support group, a church group or connecting with other families who are impacted by the same medical condition.

That was life when chronic illness was at its worst.  Now those circumstances have changed.    In fact your health has improved to a point where all these supports are no longer needed.

Have you faced this realization?

Realizing that this change has occurred can bring up a sense of heaviness and loss.  I know for me, I had formed close connections with nurses and doctors and now those interactions would come to an end.  Even now, thinking about it brings up feelings of sadness and a heaviness in my chest.

This stage of change can take some time to get used to.

It is ok to give yourself a break when adjusting to this new reality.  Time is needed to come to terms with how you feel and that is okay.  

In fact, considering all that you have been through with your medical illness, it is only natural to be confronted with a variety of emotions.

What do you notice when thinking about this?

Bringing attention to what comes up for you mentally and emotionally can help you to cope with this change.

When thinking about this new life chapter, you may say to yourself….

Now that I am better, what’s next?

Processing the emotions, the worries and the fact that life is going to play out differently from this point onward requires patience within yourself.  You probably lived with chronic illness for some time.  So now, it may take additional time to move onto new possibilities.

Embracing how you feel and all you have gone through, can help set the stage for taking on this next life chapter.

Just Take a Breath and Reassess

Hopefully now you can give yourself the opportunity to slow things down and take a moment to acknowledge all that you have gone through and all that you have achieved.

Taking the time to do this can really help manage overwhelm.  Anxiety is better managed too when you think over a new idea or goal.  You might find that a deep breathing practice, or daily affirmations can help you to feel more calm, connected and focused.

Smaller Goals Lead to Big Goals

Sitting down with what the next steps is a great place to begin.  These efforts help lead the way towards big goals.  From those big goals, smaller goals can be created to facilitate these life changes.  These smaller goals also help to bring down stress and overwhelm that can come up during this process. 

Using Your Inner Strengths

Self-doubt will come up from time to time, so focusing on goals and your personal strengths can help you manage these difficult moments.

Also thinking about all the inner strength that lies within you through the medical illness has stayed with you.  Your inner strength and perseverance has led you to this place in your life now.

This is a time where you get to lean on these inner strengths which have carried you through hard times, and will continue to support you now as you move into this next life chapter.

So take a breath, acknowledge your past, embrace your present, and become friends with the unknown in what lies ahead.

Daniela Paolone

Daniela Paolone is a Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of Westlake Village Counseling serving residents of California and Wyoming. She helps those working through pain, illness, depression and anxiety using a secure online counseling platform ensuring client confidentiality. Using education, helpful resources, unconditional support and understanding, she strives to help people transform their pain into power so they can live their best lives!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 7 comments
Jamie - June 1, 2017

Great post, Daniela! One never thinks they’ll have to adjust to a place they’ve been striving and longing to get to, and might be surprised by these feelings once they get there.

Jamie Daniel-Farrell

    Daniela Paolone - June 1, 2017

    Yes the experience can really be surprising for those going through this time of change. There are a lot of emotions and a lot of transitions going on and it can be both overwhelming and exciting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jamie Daniel-Farrell

Katy Karas - June 8, 2017

So genuine and heartfelt, Daniela. You share such a vital point of life transition. Our loved ones and we, focus so much on the illness and getting better, that when we finally achieve new health, now what?? Bringing attention to this “next life step” is just brilliant and needed. Many blessings to you.

Elizabeth Cush - June 8, 2017

Daniela- this is beautifully written. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I will definitely share this with my clients!

    Daniela Paolone - June 8, 2017

    Thank you Elizabeth for your kind response. Happy to hear you will be sharing this with your clients too!

Kimberly Duff - June 18, 2017

great stuff! Much to learn from your site!


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