Hi and welcome to this blog post collab with Olivia Djoudadi.
I’ve had a couple of collaborations through the years from people living with chronic illnesses or therapists that work with these.
You can read these here:
In this post, Olivia answers the question of whether online counselling can help people with chronic illness.
I think you know my answer will be a resounding “yes!”
Over to you, Olivia…
When first diagnosed with a chronic condition it can be quite a shock for some people.
It may need medications, a newer type focus on the foods people eat and a shift on how life is lived.
This isn’t always realised until later as obvious affects on the person or family take time to realise.
Lets take a look at a fairly common condition like diabetes; the statistics show 63% of people with it may have either anxiety or depression.
That statistic can have quite an affect on how someone with diabetes looks after their medical care needs.
One might feel a doctor is the person that deals with the medical needs however psychotherapy or counselling can really help as well.
Dealing with a chronic illness and going out even to weekly therapy appointments can take its toll however there are options such as online counselling.
You can see your therapist online by either email, IM or video sessions.
Some therapists work online because they also have a chronic condition just like you.
Some conditions may be painful or cause a lot of fatigue making getting out to counselling much harder.
Research on the person you may see to see if they have worked with chronic illness before as that can help with trust.
How many medical conditions are there in the population of the UK? Do all conditions need therapy?
In the UK according to chronicconditions.co.uk over 15 million people in the UK live with a chronic condition yet not all need emotional support.
Some may have family support or don’t go through shock that accompanies some conditions.
Not every illness is obvious so people may assume that someone is completely fine when they actually have a condition that raises their likelihood of say a medical crisis.
If medication is not used then people can get incredibly unwell or even die and that can have quite a big effect on one’s mental wellbeing.
They may go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; some reading may realise that these are actually the 5 points to the Kübler-Ross grief model.
People may lean towards one of those or have a mixture of all or as one clinician noted as a Munchian Scream which is a painting depicting a screaming man by Edvard Munch.
It may seem like its awful to get any kind of condition but the truth is that many people cope very well living with a diagnosis.
So, one may ask why that is the case.
According to Harvard Medical School dealing with a chronic condition can improve by:
- Beware of depression or anxiety. These can occur when someone is newly diagnosed or when they have lived with a condition for a long time and see the ongoing effects on self or family.
- Build a team. This can be medical as well as psychological to help keep you at your best, keep in mind to include yourself as part of the team.
- Coordinate your care. You may need to be cared for by a number of medical staff and access to each other’s notes may not always happen. You may need to highlight what has changed so your doctor is aware. Yes, they may have the notes from other departments but a five-minute appointment with a GP may not have realised changes.
- Get a prescription for information. It can help to know what side effects medication may cause so you know what is normal. Use information from a site that has a medical reputation so you don’t get scared by other information then discuss with your doctor what is your normal on that medication. It can be useful to discuss in therapy how to handle these changes or the effect it has on you or others.
- Make a healthy investment in yourself. Treatment for almost any chronic condition involves changes to lifestyle. A doctor may ask you to eat healthier, stop smoking or drinking, exercise more or seek counselling if you are having trouble coping. As well as taking care of your medical needs it may help to have selfcare times such as walking in the park or having tea with a friend, some people find support groups helpful.
- Make it a family affair. When learning about your own condition it can be helpful to include family members as they may need to assist at times even if it’s to pick up a prescription or adjust to a healthier way of eating meals. Some maybe quite active and others maybe distressed so talking with a therapist may help them as well as the person with the condition.
- Make your doctor a partner in care. When you leave the doctor’s office you are the one who needs to track changes such as symptoms or medical input. You may also need to assist the doctor by saying your finding it hard to cope.
- Manage your medications. One may need an adjusted eating plan, pills, injections or medical devices so one can function well. Knowing about the drugs you take can be helpful as they may cause other noticeable issues such as tiredness and that’s important for your medical team to know.
- Reach out. Medical input can be really helpful but so can therapy and support groups so it may help to seek online or face to face counselling.
I’ve learned quite a lot from reading this post by Olivia.
If you’d like to contact her for therapy sessions, or read more of her great blog posts, do follow her blog at this site.