The Mighty Logo

When 'Chronic Illness Overload' Means I Need a Break

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

You know how it feels to be watching a really sad movie, or reading an emotionally charged book, and you just need a break from it? Well, at the moment, I feel the same regarding writing about chronic illness.

In particular, I’m sick of my own sickness story.

I need to push pause, change the channel, read another book.

Not forever, just for a moment.

Life is more than chronic illness. I am more than my disease. However, as the years go by I feel more and more defined as the chronic illness blogger/writer who runs an online support forum for others living with the same reality.

Yes, it’s true. It’s who I am, it’s what I do and what I live with every day.

It’s only a part of me, though, and I think I’m even losing sight of the real me, as I am engulfed with my pain and the pain of others.

I’m clearly having a case of “Chronic Illness Overload” and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

So I need to solve this if I’m going to be effective in my desire to help others and not lose myself in a chronic illness cavern.

We all know the saying “too much of a good thing.”

Well, it’s very possible to also have too much of a bad thing.

No matter the extremes of life, the good and the bad, we need a rest. Periods of amazing happiness or excitement in life have their used-by date. We have to return to a level of normalcy after enjoying a good thing.

It’s the same with focusing on the hard realities of life like a chronic illness. You have to switch off at some point and try to remember who you are underneath the layers of symptoms and diagnoses.

If I feel fatigued by my own story, I can’t help but imagine how others must feel reading about it. Even the progression and updates must be causing stress and an overarching sense of needing to change the channel.

I know on my online support forum, members often feel hurt by the response, or lack of, from friends and family when they share medical news. Let’s consider though, these people do care and are concerned and love you, but at times, they can only take so much.

It’s entirely feasible they have a case of chronic illness overload and need to push pause, take a break, turn the page, listen to another story.

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Distract Me group on The Mighty mobile app. Click to join.

So, chronic illness aside, who are you, who am I?

  • I’m a wife who dearly loves her husband.
  • I’m passionate about interior decorating and love my home.
  • I’m a singer and love music.
  • I’m a friend who will always support and love those closest to her.
  • I love road trips in the countryside.
  • I love garden cafes with gift stores attached.
  • I was a leader in the business world for 30 years and am still passionate about leading and coaching as opportunities present.
  • I love writing, non-fiction is my main passion. I’ve studied freelance journalism and non-fiction writing
  • I love accounting; I’ve always had a love of numbers and partially completed a Diploma of Accounting for fun! So creating budgets, cash flow projections and managing accounts, is my idea of a good time.
  • I love dogs and horses — all animals really, but they are my favorites.
  • I’m a Christian who loves God and I’m married to a clergyman.
  • I’m far from perfect. I get grumpy, I can shout and rant with the best of them but I never hold a grudge and will say sorry first, within an hour usually. I hate being/staying angry.
  • I love murder mystery TV shows and period/historical dramas.
  • I love studying history.
  • I love flowers, especially roses.
  • I love entertaining at home.
  • I’m passionate about helping others.
  • I’m a clean freak and make no apology for it.
  • I love makeup, clothes and making myself look as nice as possible.
  • I love sending greeting cards and saving any received.
  • I love wrapping presents.
  • I love collecting teapots, pretty mugs, plates and clocks.

My list could go on, but you get the idea.

So if you are reading this and feeling weighed down with your own case of chronic illness overload, take some time to reconnect with who you really are.

What would your “Who Am I” list look like?

If you are a friend or loved one of someone with chronic illness and are also experiencing a case of chronic illness overload, it’s OK, we get it! Perhaps connect with your friend/loved one by letting them know you’re overwhelmed and you’d love to do something, with them/for them, non-health-related.

So let’s dump our case of chronic illness overload and realize it’s so important to feel connected with who we really are, aside from our diseases, and with others in our lives who are so important to us.

Getty image by Ponomariova_Maria.

Originally published: June 29, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home