The development or diagnosis of a chronic illness can be life-altering. Often, this process is similar to the grieving process. With a diagnosis, there is typically some sort of loss. This could be loss of optimal motor functioning, loss of goals or dreams that are now impossible due to the illness, and the loss of one’s identity prior to the illness. There is typically a period of readjustment to a new lifestyle related to the illness. With diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart conditions, COPD, degenerative diseases, amongst others, a person usually finds themselves swimming through websites, brochures, and books with various and sometimes conflicting information. Taking in and making sense of all of the implications of an illness, making treatment decisions, and adhering to recommended lifestyle changes can be a lofty and overwhelming ordeal.
Enlisting the support of a therapist can be an important step forward in navigating these new waters. While a therapist cannot make treatment decisions or provide medical advice, they can help you come to your own best conclusions, learn how to still make the most of your life, and help manage all of the strong emotions that accompany a new challenge. Additionally, therapists are skilled at helping one deal with the chronic physical pain that may be present with an illness. Partners or other loved ones close to the person diagnosed with a chronic illness often seek out therapy as well to handle the stressors they encounter.