The First Steps For Living With A Chronic Illness

Do you have a chronic illness? Here are 3 crucial steps for living with a chronic illness or supporting someone you love who is ill.

Last Updated on June 14, 2022 by Lori Geurin

One of the worst times in anyone’s life is when they are told they are suffering from a lifelong disease. This is not the kind of news that anyone ever wants to hear. But if you are told this, your most important concern will be to try to find a way to deal with it as best you can. To find a new normal.

The truth is this can take some effort – it can take a long time to even get used to the situation, let alone work out what your next steps are. But if you are in this process at the moment, we hope that the following information will help you get a better sense of what you need to do next.

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Action Steps For Living With A Chronic Illness

1. Gather Your Support Network

No matter what it is that you are diagnosed with, you will need a support system to get through it. In some instances, you might need people to help you with even fundamental self-care issues. For others with other illnesses, it could simply be a case of needing a little emotional support from your family.

Whatever it is that you need, it’s essential to work it out and gather everyone together to fully appreciate the enormity of what is going on. If you think you will need some kind of home care, then you should have that arranged as soon as possible. If you need financial help at all, then get the ball rolling there.

Finding a chronic illness support system early on will make sure that you do not worry unduly – and that’s important for your state of mind.

2. Keep Your Mindset Straight

One of the toughest challenges here is ensuring that you keep your emotions in check. It is a good idea to work towards accepting your illness, so it’s essential to feel your emotions fully from the start. But you need to find ways to deal with the inevitable emotional backlash of the diagnosis, as this might take some time to recover within you.

Again, this is a situation where having a good support network can really help, so make sure you feel comfortable and safe expressing yourself to those people around you. Adopt a positive mindset, and you will find it makes it easier to deal with – even if you have fears about the future as well.

Related: Overcoming The Shame Of Chronic Illness

3. Prepare For The Future

It is likely that your life is about to change in some profound ways. The more prepared you are for those changes, the more likely it is you will be able to cope with them head-on when they arise. Change is inherent to life, but especially when you have a serious ongoing medical condition.

It is likely that your workload will change, your love life will change, your social life will change. Know that this is normal. You are not alone. It’s a good idea to try to accept this as early as you can so that you can then work towards doing what you can with what you have.

Also, be encouraged that many people with chronic illness say that going through the struggles taught them valuable life lessons. It caused them to reflect on their priorities and spend more time with family and friends, or pursue interests they didn’t make time for before.

Are you living with a chronic illness? What tips can you share that could help someone who has just been diagnosed with a chronic condition?

Share your thoughts below.

For more on living with a chronic illness, you’ll want to check out:

10 thoughts on “The First Steps For Living With A Chronic Illness”

  1. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness last year and these are great tips. It pretty much put my non-stop busy LA life on hold which was very difficult and humbling for me. I had to move back home with family so I could get the round the clock help and support I needed. I’ve made huge steps this past year and my body is finally well enough to start lightly working out again which is a huge accomplishment for me. It seemed like the end of the world for me at first but like you said, I’ve since learned valuable lessons, what my priorities and passions in life are, and how much my friends and family truly mean to me.

    1. I’m so sorry about your diagnosis. ;'( It sounds like you’ve been through so much this past year. It’s great that your family has been supportive – I don’t know where I’d be without the support of my husband and family too.

      I can relate to so much of what you’ve shared here…having to slow down your once busy life, finding the experience “difficult and humbling”, and feeling like it was “the end of the world”. Acceptance was (and sometimes is) difficult for me. It’s a process and I’m a work in progress.

      I’ve had to work through anger and other strong emotions and embrace a new normal as many of us do when we go through something so life-changing. It’s definitely been a growing experience.

      That’s great that you’ve progressed enough to work out! I understand how that’s a big accomplishment, because I’ve been there too. I realize that I took many things for granted before, like being able to eat whatever I wanted, feeling strong and working out and just being able to do everyday things that seem ordinary to most people. You know?

      I hope and pray you continue to see improvements with your health, Amanda. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Hugs

  2. I’ve never had to really think about this, which makes me kind of lucky I guess. You can never underestimate the importance of family and friends through tough times.

  3. This a great guide for those living with chronic illness. They have become so common and it’s good that there are resources and community that can be found.

  4. Having a solid support group and network of friends always helps. Also the right mindset can make all the difference!

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