This topic is a difficult one for chronic illness sufferers and their loved ones to address in their lives. It also happens to be an important issue that is near and dear to my heart.
It is a fact that those suffering from chronic illness, quite often, tend to be isolated and lonely. Many times it is by choice. Often the pain and suffering makes it difficult to be around those who are healthy, because it is hard to put on a happy face, or to keep up. You may feel like you’re only a burden to those around you. Resentment or despair often sets in, and it is all too easy to push your loved ones away. But, this won’t help you or them. I learned this the hard way.
On the flip side, your friends and loved ones may start dropping out of your life. Some do so because they’re fair weather friends, but not all. Your close circle may fall away, not because they don’t care, but because they don’t know how to help. The pain of seeing someone they care about suffering, and with no idea of what to do, can be overwhelming.
When I was suffering horribly from mixed connective tissue disorder, I could barely get out of bed, I had no energy to do anything, and I was in constant pain. This is a common scenario for millions of chronic illness sufferers. Since I could rarely ever “do” anything, people stopped calling and visiting. I was “no” fun to be around. But, at the same time, I stopped reaching out. As a result, my circle of friends dwindled down to just a few of the most stalwart.
As I slowly recovered from my illness, using juicing, food-healing, herbs, acupuncture, and other holistic methods, I spent close to eight years in extreme isolation. Speaking from personal experience, I believe that we, as humans, are not designed for this. We thrive on social interaction and the exchange of energy between our friends, family, and community. Without this social component of our wellness plan, recovery is slower and more difficult.
What then can the chronic illness sufferer do?
Fortunately, there are many approaches that you can take to lessen your loneliness and isolation.
First and foremost, it is critical to adopt the open and honest approach with your friends and family. Let them know that you feel isolated and lonely, and that you would like their help. Most, if not all, of your close circle will jump at the chance to do something to help. It’s frustrating as all get out for your loved ones to see someone they care about suffering greatly, and not know what to do. Many people avoid those with an illness because of that simple reason. If you ask for something concrete, it will be provided.
Now, I know how difficult it is to live with pain and how difficult it is to be “in a good mood.” However, if you reach out to your friends and family for help, it is important, and not difficult, to reward them for the effort. You can do this simply by expressing your gratitude; thank them for caring about you. Let them know that their presence helps you heal, and it does. Your body, mind, and spirit will receive their loving thoughts and direct that energy toward your wellness. And, bonus, the vibration of gratitude is incredibly healing energy.
What do you ask your circle for?
Depending on your level of energy and mobility, you can become very creative with things to do. Your goal is feel that you belong, you are loved, you are needed, you are useful, and that you are a part of the whole. So, ask your circle to do things like watch a movie, play a game, have a philosophical discussion, have dinner, go on a walk, or drive, or something that you can do that keeps you company.
Remember, a circle of loved ones around you provides a powerful, healing session. So, take advantage of this gift to the fullest. If you do your best to allow their happy, healthy energy to surround you and absorb it, you WILL heal faster. You will flourish in that group healing environment. Ask your circle to see and visualize you as completely well, and at the same time, see yourself as healthy. Try to make your group gatherings a regular event. You will speed your recovery by leaps and bounds!
Your healing circles are NOT just a one way street! Your loving thoughts about the group provide them with just as powerful a healing energy as you are receiving. You contribute the same as everyone else. Even better, give each person in the circle an opportunity to receive healing thoughts from the group. Everyone benefits!
With love, Holly