Lana Barhum is a legal assistant, patient advocate, freelance writer, blogger, and single parent. She has lived with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since 2008 and uses her experiences to share expert advice on living successfully with chronic illness.
Living with chronic illness is an emotional rollercoaster with a variety of emotions, ranging from disbelief, anger, fear, hope, depression, acceptance, and finally moving forward. Research shows that people who have experienced higher rates of psychological distress have an increased chance of being diagnosed with a chronic condition.
But even people who have experienced little stress in their lives can find themselves shaken by a chronic illness. In fact, newer research has shown that chronic psychological stress is associated with inflammation and increased disease risk.
A whirlwind of emotions
Before chronic illness, most of us understood that strong emotions happen from time to time. But nothing fully prepares you for the feelings associated with chronic disease. The whirlwind of emotions and grief is characterized by ups and downs that are not necessarily experienced by everyone and don’t come in a preset fashion. The journey is different for each person, but it’s a normal reaction to chronic illness grief.
Your thoughts and feelings can change minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, and week-by-week. Each feeling has impact, affects mental health or physical health, and determines your overall attitude—regardless of whether the feeling is negative or positive. And chronic illness can keep you on an indefinite cycle, if you let it, due to the many triggers that keep the emotional rollercoaster in motion.