Chronic Illness Counselling
Are You Or Someone Close To You Struggling To Adapt To A Chronic Illness?
Being diagnosed with a neurological condition such as a spinal cord injury, stroke or multiple sclerosis is an overwhelming and isolating experience. It affects you, family and friends. The uncertainty of what your future holds can leave you with a feeling of intense grief and overwhelming loss.
It takes time but redefining who you are is key to moving forwards with this new direction your life has taken. You may feel that you have lost the independence you had prior to the diagnosis and adapting to these changes may sometimes feel insurmountable.
Therapy for a neurological condition or a chronic illness can help you understand your condition, grieve the losses you are experiencing and provide you with the strategies that will help you effectively cope with your situation.
Do you feel uncertain about your future? Perhaps you’re having trouble adjusting to a new diagnosis or the progression of your condition. Do you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with your illness?
You may feel sad, depressed or anxious as you experience a loss of independence. Or, maybe you feel alone and isolated because no one seems to understand what you are going through. Perhaps you are unable to participate in activities that you once were able to, or you find yourself limited in some way. You might feel overwhelmed with the amount of information you receive from clinicians, friends, family and other resources about managing your illness.
Are you struggling to decide which of these options are right for you? Do you wish you could adapt easily and feel like you did before your diagnosis?
You Are Not Alone In Your Struggle To Adapt To Your Diagnosis
An estimated 3.6 million Canadians are affected by neurological conditions according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Chronic illnesses include arthritis, neurological conditions, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimers and Parkinson’s.
Struggling to manage the difficult emotions of a chronic illness is extremely common. Among those with a chronic illness, the rates of anxiety, depression and suicide are significantly higher compared to the general public.
With some chronic illnesses, such as MS, depression can be a primary or secondary symptom. A new diagnosis can trigger old traumas or feelings of helplessness. A deep sense of loss and not knowing where to turn to or what to do next may leave you searching for hope.
With the guidance of a caring Psychologist that understands what you’re going through, it is possible to reclaim your life. With therapy for chronic illness I can help you gain the resources, support and practical skills you need to move through the emotional challenges that being diagnosed with a chronic illness brings with it.
Therapy For Chronic Illness Can Help You Manage And Adapt
I use a holistic approach to help clients adjust to the symptoms of their illness. That means our work involves more than simply learning to accept your diagnosis. We will explore the physical, spiritual, cognitive, social and emotional aspects that are impacted by your condition.
We will also focus on how your diagnosis impacts your relationships or work. Through sessions with me, you will learn how to manage the anger, anxiety and depression that may be keeping you from moving forward. You will not only come to better understand your symptoms, but you will learn how to adapt and feel confident again.
I know firsthand how difficult living with a chronic illness can be. I was diagnosed with MS in 1993, which has brought an array of challenges over time. However, with help, I have learned to abandon the title of being a “victim” and have been able to adjust, adapt and move through the losses as a result of my illness.
With that being said, I do not counsel from my experience. I know what living with a chronic illness is like, but I also know that everyone’s experience is unique and different.
Learning to cope with a chronic illness is a process. We will identify the key areas of concern for you in relation to your chronic illness. There may be other issues that you would like to work with, as well, including relationships, career transition, or family of origin.
Once we identify your goals for therapy. This process is very individualized and you will determine whether our work involves just you or you and your partner, friends or family.
During our sessions, I provide resources and support to help you learn more about how your condition and your thought patterns keep you stuck in a negative or helpless place. You will identify situations that trigger negative thoughts and learn strategies to find relief when you start feeling out of control, depressed or anxious.
Additionally, you can learn techniques that you can use outside of sessions to help conserve energy and pace yourself. You can feel confident in your ability to integrate strategies, such as mindfulness and relaxation exercises, to respond and find relief when your symptoms trigger or worsen. With therapy for chronic illness, you can take the focus away from your illness and better balance all aspects of your life.
Therapy for chronic illness can help you understand and effectively communicate your needs and boundaries. When you are able to grieve the losses you have experienced in a healthy way, you can move forward and take back that sense of self that has felt so lost since being diagnosed.
I provide a safe space for you to share and process uncomfortable and difficult feelings and experiences.
I know that living with a chronic illness presents an entire spectrum of challenges, but adjusting and adapting to your symptoms is possible. It’s not that you can no longer enjoy the activities you like, you just need to learn how to participate in those activities in a new way.
The therapy process will help you to open up to the many ways in which you can stay involved and connected in your life.
I don’t want to identify with my illness. I just want life to be as it was before my diagnosis.
You don’t need to identify with your illness. It is only one aspect of who you are among many other important parts. Initially this will be your focus but the goal of therapy will be to move away from identifying with your illness. Of course you want life to be as it was before the diagnosis. You are the same person that you were prior to the accident or illness but you will need to grieve those aspects that you have identified no longer serve you and embrace those that do.
I don’t need therapy. I can get through this on my own.
The fact that you may benefit from therapy doesn’t invalidate the reality of your condition. It shows your willingness to acknowledge that your illness affects and impacts your life. Therapy can help you not only manage your emotions but, because the mind and body work together, it can also help you manage your condition.
Why do I need therapy when my problems are medical and not mental?
Although what you’re going through may not necessarily be a mental health diagnosis, the significant loss that comes with a chronic illness can be incredibly difficult to navigate on your own. Even with very mild symptoms, you may still experience immense loss and change. After you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, things are rarely the same. Therapy for chronic illness is about finding coping strategies that work for you to address the loss you are feeling so that you can learn how to redefine yourself and feel empowered.