Chronic Illness and Mental Health: Coping Strategies and Support


This month I have decided to write about my experience with chronic illness and mental health. Mental Health Awareness Week started on the 13th of May and will hopefully encourage more conversations about mental health but also let people know that it’s okay not to be okay.

I find that the most difficult part is dealing with the debilitating symptoms that endometriosis brings and particularly the bad flare-ups. The condition has an impact not just physically but also mentally which is a side that isn’t spoken about a lot. I really struggled at first with the diagnosis then talking about ways of managing the condition because it was a lot to process, and it was quite overwhelming. It has taken time, but I have found strategies on how to cope when I don’t feel great mentally.

One of the things I have found that helps is talking about it. Talking about endometriosis and living with a chronic illness isn’t easy. Some people find talking to family and friends helps especially on the bad days. Some people find it difficult to talk to those close to them for many reasons and that is ok. If you don’t feel able to talk to people you know, there is the option of support groups. I joined a support group after I was diagnosed and there was the opportunity to attend a monthly face-to-face meeting. There was also the online closed Facebook group which gave me an opportunity to talk with others but also to people who understand. This group became my safe place to talk about what I was dealing with and how I was feeling.

The other thing I have found that helps is writing in a journal. It can be hard to verbalise how you are feeling and writing it down can be much easier. You can write in this journal and nobody else needs to see it, it can be your own safe space to write down exactly how you are feeling. I would always write what I was feeling but end the journal entry with one positive thing that had happened that day, for example getting out of bed in the morning as on the days I felt rubbish it was a big achievement for me.

I found journals recently that I had written years ago and as I looked through them, I was able to see just how far I had come since then. The days I felt like there was no point and that all I wanted to do was hide away but I got through them even though I thought I couldn’t. I think it’s important to be kind to yourself when living with a chronic illness because it is a lot to cope with and to learn to live with. The biggest thing is knowing that it is okay not to be okay and that you can reach out for support if you need it. The hardest part can be asking for it and it may seem like such a huge step, but you can do this! I always remember the words from one of Noah Kahan’s songs “Don’t let this darkness fool you, all lights turned off can be turned on.”

Sending love x

Share this article:

by Dionne McFarlane