A lucky few get a chronic illness diagnosis quickly and easily. For most it’s a long and difficult road. Along the way, you might wonder if you’re being self-indulgent. Maybe you even question your sanity. It’s easy to think that others do, too.
I spent several years living with painful but vague symptoms. I went through numerous and often painful tests searching for a diagnosis. Each negative test result led me to question myself. Maybe this is in my head? Maybe I’m hypochondriac? (If you’re wondering this, check out this list: 10 Signs You’re A Hypochondriac)
Finally “objective proof” that I had multiple sclerosis showed up on a milogram (the gold standard 30 years ago). I was delighted to have the confirmation!
I was 30 years old, had been bedridden for months, had a bladder that was becoming increasingly useless and had lost vision in an eye. Yet I needed some dye in my bones to assure me that I wasn’t faking it. This memory makes me sad.
Chronic illness is a slippery thing. Symptoms are typically invisible, come and go, and can get better and worse with no predictability. It’s hard to identify what you can and can’t do at any given moment. Clearly, a lack of diagnosis makes this even worse.
And all this gets even messier when a person is unhappy at work. I’ve had people ask me if I think they’re making this up to get out of work.
My response is to ask if they think this? I haven’t a clue but they’re clearly concerned. Bottom line, diagnosis or not, it’s easy to convince yourself that the problem is in your head.
That’s why it seems to me that the only thing that can do about this is to take charge of your thoughts and behavior in response to symptoms. Oh, and did I say that this takes lots of work, practice and time?
How is this going for you?