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Chronic Illness

Discover how to live your new normal after diagnosis



Dealing with a chronic illness or medical condition goes far beyond the physiological and medical challenges it poses. Chronic illness can strain your view of yourself, your relationships, your place in society, and your plans for the future.  With a diagnosis often comes grief at the loss you feel from such a significant change in your life. The more significant the loss and its impact on our life, the more intense your grief is likely to be.  

Anchoring Your Life Counselling provides support through the use of evidence-based therapies, to ensure you have the best chance of success in reaching your desired outcomes, regardless of where you live.  Debra also has both lived experience and training with chronic illness and offers you a supportive and empathetic place to be able to express your feelings while providing coping strategies to help you with the symptoms.  Therapies drawn on are Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and Solution Focused Therapy (SFT) which are determined based on the clients individual needs.

Counselling provides assistance in a number of ways:


Helping you understand aspects of individual psychology, emotions, relationships, thoughts, and any of a number of other areas that could be of help in making sense of your experience and making the changes you want.​


Helping to alleviate painful or disruptive symptoms that you identify as causing distress or problems in your life. Symptoms can be simple or complex, and symptom treatment can be correspondingly easy or difficult, and quick or long-term. A symptom could be something like “panic attacks" or anxiety whenever you need to go to a social event and don't have a support person to assist if needed. ​


Unfortunately, many people in today’s society have limited support networks or do not want to “burden” those close to them. You may not be able to safely share some of your experience with those who might be expected to be supportive. Sometimes it is difficult to find people who will just listen, rather than try to fix or change you.  A good therapist has a large capacity for being compassionate and empathetic. You can unburden yourself to a counsellor without having to worry about offending a loved one, being judged, or having someone else find out what you said.​

Recognising your grief and knowing when to seek out support is important in recovering from it.  Some common symptoms to look out for are:


  • Sadness

  • Anger

  • Anxiety

  • Guilt

  • Fear

  • Shock

  • Confusion

  • Emotional Overwhelm

  • Moodiness

  • Loneliness

There are five main stages of grief that were identified by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and while these are the most common stages people will go through, they are by no means linear.  People will find themselves moving back and forth between these stages. 

​You start to deny the news and, in effect, go numb. It’s common in this stage to wonder how life will go on in this different state – you are in a state of shock because life as you once knew it, has changed in an instant. If you were diagnosed with a deadly disease, you might believe the news is incorrect – a mistake must have occurred somewhere in the lab–they mixed up your blood work with someone else. Interestingly, it is denial and shock that help you cope and survive the grief event. Denial aids in pacing your feelings of grief.  Instead of becoming completely overwhelmed with grief, we deny it, do not accept it, and stagger its full impact on us at one time. Think of it as your body’s natural defence mechanism saying “hey, there’s only so much I can handle at once.” Once the denial and shock starts to fade, the start of the healing process begins. At this point, those feelings that you were once suppressing are coming to the surface.


​Once you start to live in ‘actual’ reality again, anger might start to set in. This is a common stage to think “why me?” and “life’s not fair!” You might look to blame others for the cause of your grief and also may redirect your anger to close friends and family. You find it incomprehensible how something like this could happen to you. Researchers and mental health professionals agree that this anger is a necessary stage of grief and encourages anger. It will dissipate – and the more you truly feel the anger, the more quickly it will dissipate, and the more quickly you will heal. 


​When something bad happens, have you ever caught yourself making a deal with God? “Please God, if you heal my husband, I will strive to be the best wife I can ever be – and never complain again.” This is bargaining. Guilt is a common wingman of bargaining. This is when you endure the endless “what if” statements. What if I had left the house 5 minutes sooner – the accident would have never happened. What if I encouraged him to go to the doctor six months ago like I first thought – the cancer could have been found sooner and he could have been saved.


​Depression is a commonly accepted form of grief. In fact, most people associate depression immediately with grief – as it is a “present” emotion. It represents the emptiness we feel when we are living in reality and realize the person or situation is gone or over. In this stage, you might withdraw from life, feel numb, live in a fog, and not want to get out of bed. The world might seem too much and too overwhelming for you to face. You don’t want to be around others, don’t feel like talking, and experience feelings of hopelessness. You might even experience suicidal thoughts – thinking “what’s the point of going on?”


The last stage of grief is acceptance. Not in the sense that “it’s okay my husband died” but rather, “my husband died, but I’m going to be okay.” In this stage, your emotions may begin to stabilize. You come to terms with the fact that the “new” reality is that you have a chronic illness that has changed your life – and you’re okay with that. It’s not a “good” thing – but it’s something you can live with. It is definitely a time of adjustment and readjustment. There are good days, there are bad days, and then there are good days again. In this stage, it does not mean you’ll never have another bad day – where you are uncontrollably sad. But, the good days tend to outnumber the bad days. In this stage, you may lift from your fog, you start to engage with friends again, and might even make new relationships as time goes on.

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