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After Separation: Reflections on the Plight of the Alienated Child

SERVICES | Coping with Health Crises

It is a blessing for most of us that we are able to take our own good health and the good health of our loved ones for granted for extended intervals over our life spans. But all that is certain is that good health cannot last forever. Whether it be we, ourselves, or someone precious to us, as life moves on, episodes of sickness, failing health, a variety of kinds of frailty, and the appearance of terminal illnesses become inevitable companions for some portion of our life journeys.

Unfortunately, health crises tax more than financial and physical adaptive resources. They also represent major stressors to our sense of psychological well being. This is as true if the health crisis is in the life of a loved one as much as it is when we, ourselves, become seriously ill.

Among the possible debilitating emotional reactions we may experience when a loved one falls seriously ill are such states as:

  • Unmanageable pessimism and anxiety about the future
  • Chronic and uncontrolled irritability
  • Irrational resentment that the loved one has become so debilitated
  • Difficulty with paying attention to needed life arrangements and ordinary self- maintenance activities
  • Mild to severe personal depression
  • Recourse to alcohol or other chemicals to self-medicate
  • Lessened immune system effectiveness and falling into personal illness oneself
  • A cold and rock-like approach to life; an inability to feel out of fear that emotional collapse would result from a flow of unbearable feeling

Among the possible debilitating emotional reactions we may experience when we, ourselves, face serious health threats are such states as:

  • Experiencing episodes of terror about our uncertain futures
  • Feeling guilt that because of our illness we are burdening our loved ones with both practical difficulties and emotional anguish
  • Encountering an inability to think clearly about medical options
  • Falling into deep seated depression that saps our willingness to do what we are able to do for ourselves
  • Turning inward and cutting off our human relatedness when most we need the warmth of others
  • Generating catastrophic expectations of impairment and giving in to inordinate pessimism about how much our lives will be blighted by our medical condition; losing ourselves in runaway fantasies about our impending invalidism or death

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAS A SERIOUS HEALTH CRISIS AND YOU RECOGNIZE SOME OF YOUR REACTIONS IN THE TEXT ABOVE, IT MIGHT BE WISE FOR YOU TO SEEK COUNSELING. If you are the one with a health problem, in the supportive, understanding, counseling relationship, you can take better hold of your out of control emotional states, make better medical decisions, learn to adapt to whatever will be the new limitations on your life, find renewed beauty and purpose in existence, and reconnect with loved ones in a more sustaining fashion. Through counseling, you can improve your adaptive capacities and thus lend support to your diminished immune system functioning. If you are caring for someone who is ill, you can avoid caretaker burnout, reduce the stress risk to your own wellbeing, and restore your personal resiliency. Please consider using one of the links provided below...