This is a guest post by Christopher D. Marshall
Let’s face it, living with chronic illness is no picnic. Doctors appointments, lifestyle changes, and dealing with the symptoms of the illness can really take a toll. When you’re a man, however, it can become even more stressful. Sociological expectations, as well as our egos, can make living with a chronic condition all that much harder.
Dealing with these added stressors can have an effect on many different areas of our lives. We may even begin neglecting our treatment, making our condition worse. We might also push our family away, or even begin to doubt ourselves. Here are some tips on how to handle all of the things that come along with being a man who has a chronic illness:
Don’t ignore your doctor. The only way to lead a somewhat normal life is to listen to what your doctor says. No procrastination, no excuses, no cheating. If he says jump, you say how high, and then do it. If you don’t listen to your doctor, you’re wasting both your time and his.
”I don’t need any doctor. I already know what I’m supposed to do,” you may be thinking. Well, as someone who has had this mentality for much of my past, I’m here to tell you that by not listening to your doctor, you may be wasting far more time than you think. For example, as a direct result of thinking this way, I have lost nearly twenty years of my life expectancy.
Do get your family involved in your treatment. A crucial part of having any chronic illness is having a support system. Not just for emotional support, but to assist you in your treatment as well. It’s important to give your family as much information possible about your condition.
If possible, bring a loved one to your doctor appointments. That way they can ask any questions they may have. They will also be better informed about your treatment and will know what to do/not to do for someone with your condition. This will also help to keep you on track with your treatment plan.
Don’t push others away. As I stated before, a support system is crucial to any chronic illness. Without a strong support system in place, it is easy to fall into a tailspin that you may never be able to recover from.
Rather than stressing out about what your illness might be doing to your loved ones, be open with them. Listen to them as they try to help you. If you shut them out, you will quickly find yourself alone. I don’t care how strong you think you are, nobody can properly deal with a chronic illness all by themselves.
Do your friends and family a favor, keep them informed. When someone is diagnosed with a chronic illness, it doesn’t just affect the patient. It affects everyone they are close to as well. This is why it is important to keep your loved ones close to you and informed about your prognosis.
Imagine what your family and friends may be thinking about your prognosis. If you have kept them in the dark, there is no doubt that their minds are racing, likely envisioning some dramatic worst-case scenario. The less a person knows the more their imagination will try to fill in the blanks. This is likely causing them emotional distress and nobody wants that for their loved ones.
Don’t let your condition bring you down. Instead, use it as a source of inspiration and strength. You may be thinking, “You’re an idiot,” but hear me out. Think about it, you are dealing with something that most people will never experience. Something that takes tremendous strength just to live with. Not to mention dealing with the struggles of daily life on top of it.
Watching you deal with a chronic condition, while still juggling the responsibilities that come with life, can be a tremendous source of inspiration to others. Let that be your drive. Inspire your friends and family to be strong as well. Don’t let your condition define you. Don’t let it win.
Do stay positive. You’re a champ. The strength you’re displaying by living with your condition puts you ahead of the game. You’re doing something that would break other people, but not you. You’re too strong.
So look your condition straight in the eyes and show it who’s boss. You are not your condition. You control your own thoughts. You make the decisions, not your condition.
Living with chronic illness is not easy. You may even have moments in which you just want to give up, but as Winston Churchill once said, “When you’re going through Hell, keep going.”
Do what your doctor tells you, keep your loved ones informed, and never, ever throw in the towl. Follow these tips and always remember that you are stronger than you think you are. Don’t let your condition define you.
Now get out there and live your life to the fullest. You’ve got this.
Christopher is a 32-year old freelance writer based out of the state of Washington. He has a background in Creative Writing, Politics, and Digital Marketing. He is currently going back to school for a degree in journalism.