Do you ever feel isolated due to chronic illness? You never know how you’re going to feel from day to day, therefore it’s hard to make plans ahead of time. Others may not understand. When energy levels and pain are too much to socialize, it makes it hard to stay connected. You may not be able to work outside the home which causes even more isolation. Things like Facebook can even make us envious of friends and family who get to do things on a regular basis. There are things you can do to make it easier to connect even if your energy level is limited and you’re in pain.
Pets can help you not feel so isolated.
My dog Toby has been a godsend. He is a nine year old toy poodle. He also makes more work for me by ripping paper and chewing on shoes! I guess he isn’t done with the puppy stage! He had to have his eye removed a few months ago and we supported one another while he healed. I call him my one eyed wonder. Research says that petting an animal can lower blood pressure and release a relaxation hormone. They also give you a sense of belonging and meaning.
Connect with others earlier in the day.
Do you find it hard to participate in activities that are in the evening? Sometimes it’s easier for others to get together in the then. Many of us with chronic illness are wiped out by this time or have to tend to family. Why not suggest to some of your friends who are home during the day to get together for breakfast or maybe they can stop by for coffee. I know my small group meets in the evening and lately I’ve been too tired and spent to go. I’ve really miss that connection. It was much easier for me when they met in the morning. You could also have a friend come over with popcorn and a movie. Who says movies have to be watched at night? (Unless you do better in the evening of course.)
Try a support group.
Certain cities many times have different support groups. Make sure it’s a good fit. I know some I’ve been to have left me more depressed than when I came! I have also found good ones too. Check your local paper. Many of them are held in churches or hospitals. If there isn’t one in your neighborhood why not start one? If that seems overwhelming maybe you can co-lead it so the burden doesn’t only fall on you. One support group you may be able to start in your church is Hopekeepers. Lisa Copen from Rest Ministries gives you instructions on how to get one started. You can also join the online Facebook group.
Connect with others online.
There are many blogs these days about living with a chronic illness. You can google the topic to find them. There are also Facebook groups for different topics. Put in the search engine on Facebook “chronic illness” and see if you can find a good fit. Some are more active than others. Forums are another good way to find support.
Be clear with your family and friends on what your needs are.
It is easy for us to want family members and friends to read our minds. We can get frustrated when they don’t. This isn’t fair to them though. Many people want to help out or spend time with us but aren’t sure how. Ask them if they’re in a position to help or spend time doing something within our limitations. If they can’t accept their answer. It probably isn’t a reflection of you. They may be able to do it next time. I know it’s hard to ask people for their time, but many people genuinely want to help. Maybe next time you’ll be able to do something for them. See my post on How to Ask Friends for Support.
Seek out a counselor.
Last but not least look for a counselor. Many of them are good at helping you brainstorm on ways to improve your life. They can also help you look at things from a different point of view. I know mine help me think of ways as to not be so overwhelmed when I’m in a flare. We brainstormed practical things I could do that would be helpful. I wrote them down in a notebook and now it is my go to when I’m having a difficult day. Start by asking your pastor for some contacts or look them up online.
I hope these things have inspired you to think of ways to connect with others in and out of the house. How do you like to connect with others?