February is Self-Esteem Awareness Month
People suffering from a chronic illness sometimes experience self-esteem issues. Chronic illnesses are most often categorized as invisible illnesses – not visible to those except the sufferer. People with “invisible illnesses” sometimes feel pressure to create a façade to show the world that they are feeling well despite their pain.
People with chronic illnesses can often worry that family and friends do not believe they are sick which affects self-esteem and can lead to:
At the onset of a chronic illness, people can feel as though they are being punished or blamed for their poor health. This can make the patient feel out of control and frightened by their condition. While the physical aspect of the illness is being attended to, emotions can linger and lead to long term self-esteem issues.
For people living with someone who suffers chronic illness, understanding that emotional issues can affect relationships is important. Open communication is key to keeping a relationship strong in times of flare and poor health. Simply acknowledging the loved ones illness and what they are going through can alleviate misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
Patients who suffer chronic illness sometimes find support through a network or organization dedicated to their particular illness. Some well known organizations include:
- Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- Lupus Foundation of America
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- HIV/Aids Tribe Forum
- ALS Association
- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
- The Hepatitis Foundation
Connecting with patients who share the same illness can help individuals feel less alone by finding others who might feel the same as they do. Anonymity and privacy is provided by closed groups on online forums.
Always know that there is someone out there who understands and recognizes the pain you feel. You should never feel bad about yourself because of your illness.