Living with a chronic health problem can be awfully isolating. Likely, even if you’re the most social person, there’s no one with whom you can share your daily challenges. You might think it would be easier if you could find someone who also has these challenges. But there’s this — mutual sharing of health problems can be overload. Just ask any 85 year old living in an assisted living what it’s like when everyone is in as bad shape as you and that’s all anyone talks about!
But until you get to that point in life when the rest of the world seems to have finally caught up with you, it can seem like you’re the only one who lives with pain, fatigue or debilitating symptoms. It can seem pretty lonely.
I hear so often: “Do your other clients have this problem?” “Are your other clients in as bad physical shape as I am?” “Does anyone else feel the way I do?” Each time I hear this, I can only say, “Yes, this is very normal“.
But how would you know what normal is? Few people share their experiences with health problems beyond their close circle of friends and family. Normalizing chronic health problems is not an easy thing to do.
Why? Because most people respond to any statements about illness with blank stares or sympathetic clucks and the conversation goes stale from there. Unless there’s a really good reason to bring it up, it often feels easier not to go there.
I’ve seen that learning to share your experience with others in ways that allow you to feel affirmed, whole and well balanced rather than a freak with 3 heads, is an important step toward integrating invisible and unpredictable health challenges.
What do you think? How is this going for you?