Living with an autoimmune disease is like living in a constant state of uncertainty. You never know when a flare-up will hit or when you’ll be feeling like your normal self again. As someone who has lived with ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, for over a decade, I can attest to the emotional toll it takes on your mental health.
March is Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month, and as we bring awareness to these conditions, it’s crucial to highlight the importance of emotional support for those living with autoimmune diseases.
In this article, I’ll be sharing my personal journey with ulcerative colitis and the emotional struggles that come with it. I’ll also be discussing the significance of social support, accessing professional help, self-care strategies, and advocating for better emotional support in the healthcare system.
Like many people with autoimmune diseases, I was diagnosed at a young age. I was 24 when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis six months becoming a mother for the first time. My whole world changed overnight as I was thrown into a whirlwind of medical appointments, procedures, and medications. As a new mother, I was already dealing with typical maternal angst, but now I had to deal with the added stress of a chronic illness.
One of the biggest challenges of living with an autoimmune disease is the psychological impact it can have on your mental health.
Chronic illness can cause anxiety, depression, and a sense of isolation. For me, it was difficult to accept that I was different from my peers, that I had to take medication every day, and that I would have to manage my symptoms for the rest of my life.
But I quickly learned that having a support system was essential in managing my emotional well-being. My family, friends, and partner have been my rock throughout my journey with ulcerative colitis. They have listened to me vent, encouraged me to take care of myself, and have been there for me through the ups and downs of my illness. Their emotional support has made a world of difference in my mental health and my ability to cope with my condition.
However, social support is not always enough, and that’s where accessing professional help comes in. Working with a holistic health coach like myself can be beneficial in managing the emotional challenges of living with an autoimmune disease. Holistic health coaching takes a whole-person approach to wellness, addressing not only physical health but also mental and emotional well-being. Through one-on-one coaching, individuals with autoimmune diseases can learn coping strategies, stress management techniques, and lifestyle changes that can help improve their overall well-being.
Personally, seeking professional help has been a game-changer in managing my mental health. Through therapy, I have learned to process my emotions, set boundaries, and communicate my needs more effectively. It has allowed me to be more self-aware and to develop a better understanding of myself and my illness.
In addition to social support and accessing professional help, self-care strategies are crucial in managing the emotional challenges of living with an autoimmune disease.
Self-care can take many forms, such as exercise, meditation, journaling, or even taking a relaxing bath. For me, mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation have been especially helpful in managing my stress levels and reducing anxiety.
Finally, advocating for better emotional support within the healthcare system is essential for improving the quality of life for those with autoimmune diseases. Healthcare providers need to prioritise emotional well-being and offer resources and support for their patients. It’s not enough to only focus on physical symptoms and medication; patients need to feel seen, heard, and supported in managing the emotional challenges of living with a chronic illness.
In conclusion, living with an autoimmune disease can be an emotional rollercoaster, but with the right support, coping strategies, and advocacy, it’s possible to manage the challenges and lead a fulfilling life. If you’re struggling with the emotional challenges of living with an autoimmune disease, know that you’re not alone.
Reach out to your support system, consider working with a holistic health coach, and prioritise self-care in your daily routine. Remember, managing your emotional well-being is just as important as managing your physical symptoms.
As we bring awareness to autoimmune diseases this month, let’s also advocate for better emotional support within the healthcare system. Let’s make sure that patients with chronic illnesses receive the care they need not just for their physical symptoms but also for their emotional well-being. Let’s work towards a healthcare system that priorities whole-person care, so that those with autoimmune diseases can live their lives to the fullest.
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