By Abbie Cornett
When you're diagnosed with a chronic illness, no one tells you being sick isn't the only thing you will have to learn to cope with. You also have to learn to cope with the loss of your former self and the feeling of unworthiness that goes with the loss.
People's feelings of self-worth are frequently tied to their physical wellbeing. This means when a person's physical self is not living up to his or her expectations, feelings of isolation, anxiety and unworthiness can occur.
These feelings can be made worse when family members and friends start treating us differently or get angry when we have to cancel plans at the last minute because of illness, or worse, stop inviting us at all.
The first step to controlling these feelings is to stop judging yourself. While your illness may have made you accept that life isn't going to be the way you planned, it has not changed what kind of person you are. You still deserve to be loved.
When your friends and family treat you differently, it may be because they are having trouble seeing you suffer and don't know what to say or how to treat you. It's important for you to remember it's not just your life that has changed, but theirs as well. This is particularly true for your family.
Communication is vital. Talk to your family and friends about how you feel, and ask them to discuss how they are feeling also. Give them a chance. It's going to take time for you and them to find your new normal. If for some reason they can't accept your new life, forgive them and move on. It is their loss.
Most importantly, you need to learn to love yourself again. Your illness has not diminished you as a person. You are as worthy now as you were before your illness.