It’s hard when you live in a family with chronic disease. The long road of seeking a diagnosis and the fear of what that diagnosis would be takes a toll on our emotions. Whether it’s for us, or for our children. We begin to see things in others who are healthy that may or may not be real.
FEAR & Anxiety
The biggest emotion we face when we see something is wrong with our loved ones health is fear. We are afraid of the unknown. We rarely have quick or immediate answers. The treatments tend to be longer and slower to find. We wait while watching our loved ones suffer.
We developed anxiety from watching our loved ones suffer from chronic pain. They may have withdrawn from us or life functions because of their disorder. They may not have been able to have the same type of relationship with you that they had before. It’s difficult for the individual, as well as the family around them.
What happens with this fear and anxiety?
Unfortunately, what can happen with the development of this fear and anxiety is it spreads into simple health matters. Sometimes onto other family members that don’t have any fear. We start to see signs and symptoms very quickly in other people that may or may not be there. Our fear and anxiety of watching the person that was diagnosed has left us a bit scarred. Sometimes our fear for another family member or friend is well-placed. In the end, it may have been warranted. However, have you ever found yourself looking at a friend and listening to them tell you a health story and wonder if there is something wrong with them too? Do you see symptoms you think are a disorder? It spreads into our life because we have been through a lot seeking answers for someone we love (or ourselves).
What can we do about it?
The first thing we need to do is recognize our trauma. We truly did have a traumatic experience finding an answer and seeking treatments for our loved ones. We do watch them suffer, a lot. It’s very difficult and we often do not talk about all the anxiety and fear we have from watching someone with a chronic illness.
Once we know that it’s OK to have anxiety and fear, we need to move past that. It’s normal to be afraid and nervous, but it can’t be all of our life or all of who we are. We need to then start to separate ourselves from that. We need to listen to other people as if we hadn’t had the trauma that we did.
What do we need to remember?
Think about the circumstances like you did at the very beginning before you knew you had a chronic illness. You just saw something was going on, but you didn’t know what and the fear wasn’t there yet. You sought simple answers and medical advice.
We need to remember chronic disease is chronic. That means it happens over and over again. It’s not a one-time thing. Perhaps you might see something the first time and be correct about it being something chronic. However, you will not know until you see if it truly is.
Seek help from medical professionals for you or your loved one. Let them run some tests, and wait for the results. Once you see the results, you can start to think about what it is. You can help the loved one track the illness if it continues.
You do need to give yourself and your loved one time to process what’s happening. You need to give them time to see if their symptoms continue or worsen. It’s not often that one instance leads to a diagnosis, however, we do wish that right away don’t we? This is part of our response as well. We just know, from hard experience, the quicker the diagnosis, and treatment, the better off our loved ones will be.
We know all these things from our traumatic experiences. Recognizing the experience is part of the process. Being sure you are supportive and patient with others in your life is important. It takes time for a disorder to be chronic and although you are afraid, you may not be correct. It might just simply be a one-time virus. Watch, wait and track if symptoms continue. Remember, it’s your decision to calm the fear or let it rule your thinking.