Prolonged illness almost always equates to isolation.
Initially, kindness reveals itself through visits from friends and coworkers, meals dropped off, and many offers to help in any way. Not yet adjusted to my rapidly changing situation, I was overwhelmed and somewhat embarrassed by such an outpouring, having always considered myself strong and independent.
Perhaps, I pushed others away. More likely, having been forced off the highway of life, everyone else moved on.
In the past, I defined a relationship in terms of responsibility. If I felt needed, then the relationship had value. In illness, I no longer have much to give. I now recognize that my former definition was not necessarily healthy, yet still struggle to imagine who would find my friendship worthwhile: another barrier to connecting.
Professional relationships have almost all disappeared. The commonality of ongoing training sessions and shared education-related challenges are no longer part of my life. Annual goal-setting reports absent, I am focusing on new goals now: baby steps really. Who can relate when aspirations equate to meeting daily hygiene requirements and hoping to publish one blog post every other day? Hardly inspirational.
Illness changes a person. From the outside, the transformation must be incomprehensible. Having grown up with a sister plagued by life-threatening illnesses, I know I interpreted much of her behaviour as selfish. Only now (long after she passed away) do I understand that it is self-preservation that drove her actions, not selfishness. I suspect most outsiders lack that perspective.
Add depression into the mix – a natural response to such dramatic life change – and there is another wall to interacting. I find myself battling with hypersensitivity, analyzing personal comments and twisting them into evil rejection. I am anxious of conversations that involve justification of how my life turned out so pathetically. I fear judgment.
Isolation is seldom listed as a symptom of chronic disease, but it certainly is a component. The need for human interaction is very real, in fact, psychologically, I would say it is essential.
Making a conscientious effort to reach out to others, balancing social activity with limited energy, and valuing myself enough to keep the negative self-talk to a minimum, is how I am currently countering isolation.
5 thoughts on “Illness and Isolation”
After reading this entry I said to myself, “I wish you’d listened to me!” So, I was happy to see your inquiry. Because of the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS) found on http://www.retrainingthebrain.com., I no longer have chronic fatigue. For 40 years my life was limited by fatigue. I feel like I have my life back. Instead of having to rest every other day, feeling depleted of energy, headachey and nauseated, I am active every day. I still get tired (I’m 71) but it’s not the same. If I choose to have a “rest” day, I still feel good and can putter around. I no longer need to lie down for an hour in the middle of the day just to get through the day. This summer I walked 30 minutes a day at a lakeside park. I went to a 3-day craft retreat. I took an overnight trip to Amish country. Last Sunday I spent 2 hours on my feet at an art exhibition at Cleveland Art Museum with my son, then went to dinner. These things never would have been possible without DNRS. In addition to the physical healing, I have experienced a lot of emotional and relational healing through this and a related program, The Healing Code.
I hope that you have been able to access the website and listen to some of the testimonies. The response from those who had taken the DVD course like me, then gone to the seminar, is that the seminar was much more effective for them, so that seems the way to go if you can afford it. What also amazed me was that people in worse shape than me found it possible to attend when they weren’t sure they could handle it because they received some immediate healing that got them through.
I’m so glad that you and Ric were able to tour the US and meet Americans first-hand without the filter of the crisis-oriented media. Every day I am amazed at the efforts I see those around me making to bridge ethnic and cultural differences.
Health, joy and peace to you.
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Wow Jan. I will definitely look into it again. So happy for you that you have life back.
Ah, the ups and downs of chronic illness! But, we count our blessings, and I’m so glad you got to enjoy your trip to the US. I’ve been busy…the Autoimmune Diet took a lot of time, but was not my fatigue solution, though I’m still an advocate. Now I want to pass on what I’m doing but not ready to blog about. Annie Hopper, a Canadian and former sufferer of multiple chemical sensitivity, has authored a program to resolve MCS, FM (ME), CFS and anxiety by retraining the limbic brain, the fight-or-flight center. It is demanding, but doable, and available by DVD or in-person seminar. After just a few weeks I’ve seen an increase in energy and just plain happiness. Please check it out at http://www.retrainingthebrain.com.
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Thanks Jan – I will check it out!
Hi Jan! Going through old posts and comments and saw this – wondering how you made out with the Retraining the Brain. Any sustainable differences? Hope you are well and life has settled a bit from the last time we connected.