Illness and me, two different things

There can be phases in life when illness is a big part of life and affects everything. It can take a lot of strength, require a period in the hospital and plenty of care and support from other people.

It is easy to think of mental illnesses as different from physical bodily conditions, although both illnesses can be treated with medications and various rehabilitative measures and exercises.

The mind can be treated and rehabilitated in many different ways. Taking care of your mental wellbeing is just as important as taking care of your physical condition.

However, we cannot influence everything. A physical disability can be congenital or come as a result of an accident, for example. In the same way, an unfortunate life event can trigger a mental health challenge. We may have hereditary, genetic factors that predispose us towards illness, and there is nothing we can do about it.

You do not have to feel guilty or ashamed of your illness. Any of us can get ill. You are not your illness. You are you and there is much more to you than just the illness.

Recovery and healing

Have you thought about the difference between recovery and healing?

It is easiest to compare healing perhaps to getting better from a common cold. I can say that I am healed from the flu when I no longer have a fever, my nose does not run, and I do not feel stuffed up. Nothing reminds you of the illness anymore and there are no more symptoms.

However, recovery is a different process than healing. The flu can be accompanied by long-term consequences, even if the illness is cured. After a long cold, it can take weeks to get your physical condition to the same level as before the flu. Recovery from the flu can take longer than healing from the symptoms themselves.

When you have challenges with mental health, the illness can be your companion for a very long time or for the rest of your life. The state of health may alternate and come in waves. Sometimes a period is better and sometimes it is worse.

Regardless of the permanence of the illness or the ripple of symptoms, it is always possible to recover. Recovery means learning to manage and cope with the illness so that it is possible to live a meaningful and satisfactory life at the same time.

If you are suffering from an illness you observe the symptoms inside you, the deterioration of functional capacity and any signs of the illness itself. A person in recovery, on the other hand, focuses on their own resources, strengths and increasing functional capacity. If you suffering from an illness you experience more threats and worries regarding the illness than the person in recovery, who is focused on hope and opportunities.

How do you see yourself? Are you primarily a person suffering from an illness or one in recovery?