Chronic illness or chronic body condition may or may not be terminal, sudden, progressive, life-lasting, painful, disabling, acquired, visible, or limiting. This can include, but not limited to cancer, HIV, Diabetes, hepatitis, asthma, heart, spine, and other organ abnormalities, amputation, arthritis, osteoporosis or genetic abnormalities and result from an accident, abuse, organ malfunction, inborn deformity or from a primary illness.
Difficulties with your body can create feelings of injustice, suffering, victimhood, depression, anxiety, existential anxiety about un-lived life, existential guilt about unaccomplished tasks or shake beliefs about how things should be. Difficult feelings in turn, often manifest in unhelpful behaviours such as non-adherence to medical treatment, self-criticism, rumination, self-pity, overeating, or substance abuse.
Psychoanalytic psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural psychotherapy can help you widen social, psychological, and spiritual domains of your existence to compensate for difficulties within the physical domain. Your psychotherapy will begin with the total acceptance of your vision of life, goals, and desires for therapy. You may want to focus on getting better or having a more exciting life in the face of your condition, or you may not have any goal at all and it is okay. You will be surprised at what will emerge in the process.
On the social domain of your life, it is not uncommon to feel down and want to isolate from the world and others however, this only exacerbates difficult feelings and leads to the establishment of the vicious cycle. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy can help you explore ways you can increase your connectedness with others so that your focus is less on yourself and your health and more on the feeling of concern for the wellbeing of others and the feeling of being needed and valued. This will have a positive effect on the quality of your life and relationships.
In the psychological domain, cognitive behavioural therapy will help you to cope with any chronic pain and understand and overcome any additional side-effects of your condition, including depression and anxiety. Together with your psychotherapist, you will build a diagram of your life that will help you to have a thorough understanding of how your feelings, actions and physical symptoms interact and how to minimise your suffering. You will establish goals and prioritise areas of your life that you would like to address. Setting and achieving goals can be self-fulfilling on its own and contribute to a better quality of your life. With the help of cognitive behavioural therapy, you will learn various coping techniques and most importantly, how to control your mind so that it does not get caught up in blame or comparison with other people resulting in envy. You will also learn about the destructive nature of expectations and alternative ways to live your life whilst accepting your body and life you have. Any specific concerns relating to treatment can be discussed in total confidentiality.
In the spiritual domain, psychoanalytic psychotherapy will help you bear and grow from your pain, widen your perception of life, your body and reflect on what does it mean to have limitations imposed upon you. Physical difficulties often pave the way to faster individuation and better quality of life due to the ability to distinguish the important from non-important in life. You may choose to live your life in a more exciting and unique way. You will explore many misconceptions about the nature of life and resulting in mental suffering and possibly obtain inner freedom from being emotionally influenced by your illness. You will be encouraged to explore the idea that pain is a natural part of life and everyone is encountering it in different ways. It is, however, augmented or decreased by the attitude taken towards it. You may not be able to do anything about your condition, but you can choose what you do with it. Every day you can choose to be a victim or a hero in your life story and an example for other people.