3 Questions & 3 Answers about Guilt & Chronic Illness

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Do you ever feel guilty about being chronically ill?

guilt heartOf course we know being sick is not our fault. There is nothing that can be done to avoid being diagnosed with RA or make it go away completely. And if there were, we would. So, we’re innocent.

Being sick with Rheumatoid Arthritis is not like having your tonsils out and getting extra ice cream. There are no benefits. Trust me: a handicapped parking pass is not fun when you really can’t walk well. And if it the pain is not enough to steal the fun, there is always the way people look upon you for using it or the guilty way it makes you feel.

3 Questions about guilt and chronic illness like RA

  1. When do I feel guilty about having Rheumatoid Arthritis?
  2. Why feel guilty when it’s not our fault?
  3. What can I do about this guilt?

1) When do I feel guilty about having Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  • I feel guilty when my children miss anything that they would have had if I didn’t have RA. I hate the fact that I can’t make their lives as perfect as I want to.
  • I feel guilty when I think of how much my treatments cost my family. I hate to realize the things we could have done for ourselves or others with that money.
  • I feel guilty when I notice how little I can do for my friends and neighbors or the church. I hate that RA has made it so difficult to live out the person that I feel I am on the inside.

2) Why feel guilty when illness is not our fault?

I don’t think we should feel guilty about things that aren’t our fault, but I can certainly see how it happens. Feelings are usually the result of thoughts. Whether what we think about is true or not, feelings are still produced. Personally, some of the unconscious thoughts I have about my RA are not very sensible.

3) What can I do about feeling guilty about Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Maybe I’ll always have weak moments with guilt feelings about RA. However, I also fight back against adding guilt to my RA suffering. Here are three ways I fight it.

FACTS: Sometimes it helps us to adjust our feelings if think about the facts. The facts are on my side.

  • For example, when it comes to my kids, it’s not my job to make their lives perfect. And my having RA might not necessarily make their lives worse.
  • When it comes to the money,  I am sure that if someone else in my family were sick, money for treatment would be no object.
  • My last example is about the restrictions imposed on me by RA. I miss being able to bake pies or Christmas cookies – or even bring homemade soup to a sick friend. I miss it and it is hard, but the truth is that there are other ways to express kindness.

FRIENDS: Friendship is good medicine. Friends accept who you are, including your limitations. Friends who also have RA understand without being told that understanding is needed. Either way, true friends encourage you to let go of misplaced guilt.

FORGIVE: Fight the disease and fight for every bit of life that you can. And when you fall short, which you will, forgive yourself with the same grace that you would forgive someone else.

Postblog: They say that you shouldn’t air dirty laundry in public and you know I’m pretty private despite the fact that I write a daily blog. Guilt is not something that I have ever written about. I actually felt guilty trying to write about it today. My excuse is that this post is my part in a patients’ blog carnival on guilt that is being hosted at Glass of Win.  My hope is that it helps some other patients who have similar feelings.

 Some things to not feel guilty about:

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 at 6:00 am and is filed under RA Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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