Illness as Identity

When you’re living with a chronic illness, there’s so much time required for the effective management of a long-term health condition. There are multiple ongoing medical appointments to schedule, periodic laboratory tests to complete, and prescriptions to refill.

It can easily feel like your illness has become your sole identity. It’s critically important to retain the aspects of your identity that are not directly linked to having any given medical diagnosis.

For example, I have had a lifelong interest in art. For a period of many years, I neglected to regularly incorporate artistic endeavors into my exceptionally busy work schedule.

Thankfully, I have rediscovered my artistic interests and abilities within the past few years. I began to experiment with designing polymer clay jewelry, back in 2015. In 2017, I started to take monthly oil painting classes.

Reconnecting with my artistic interests has been very beneficial, on several levels. It has allowed me to find a much-needed respite from the stresses associated with the management of multiple chronic illnesses.

In my personal and professional experience, those who most effectively adjust to chronic illness are those who are able to view their diagnosis as one aspect of their total identity. A diagnosis of a chronic condition should not be the central core of one’s identity.

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