Some balance and dizziness disorders are chronic conditions. Learning how to cope better with a chronic condition can help reduce stress and anxiety as well as bring symptoms under control.
The notion of ‘surviving or thriving' in relation to a chronic condition, where there are good days and bad days, perhaps requires a shift in thinking. While we all have the potential to survive despite ill health, sometimes simply surviving the day equals success! Can we accept that thriving might occur in only certain areas of our lives and only at certain times?
Learning to live with chronic conditions takes time and enormous energy. It inevitably means confronting feelings of loss, which in our society – focused so resolutely on happiness, success, beauty and achievement – is most challenging.
We are brought up to show a ‘happy face’ and are not encouraged to explore our negative feelings. For this reason, even though having a chronic condition is something to feel negatively about, it is extremely difficult to express it. We tend to justify our silence, but silence itself can increase our suffering. Although we see a balance of 'light' and 'dark' in nature, we try desperately to avoid the darker side of life. But if we continually hold in our negative feelings, sometimes they can overwhelm us.
Part of living with a chronic condition means having to adjust and readjust to change – sometimes one day will hold many such changes – causing a rollercoaster effect to both our body and our emotions. While we have to tolerate the physical changes, we can most definitely address and shift the emotional ones, like depression or anxiety. Practicing relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help reduce anxiety.
Key points to remember:
- All of our feelings are valid, can be acknowledged, and can be understood by others.
- We all need help from the beginning to the end of our lives, and we should be gentle with ourselves.
- We all are lovable and deserve to be supported and cared for – in order for this to happen, we must reach out.
- We all experience both intense emotional joy and pain in our lives, for this is part of what it is to be human.
- It is a myth to think that we are ever truly independent. We all need and support each other all our lives. We are all a good mix of weak, strong, dependent and independent.
- Many people with vestibular disorders experience dizziness-related depression.
The following can offer more help and support for affected individuals and their families.
Positive Coping with Health Conditions: A Self-Care Workbook [PDF] by Drs. Dan Bilsker, Joti Samra and Elliot Goldner
A self-care manual authored by scientist-practitioners at Simon Fraser University in BC with expertise in issues relating to coping with health conditions. The workbook [PDF] and accompanying Relaxation Method Audio [MP3 File] can be downloaded free-of-charge. Print copies and audio CDs are also available.
This iOS and Android app builds the ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of change and difficult challenges such as coping with chronic health conditions.
Fear Came to Stay - a powerful poem written by a concussion sufferer in British Columbia
Most of the titles listed are available for loan through public libraries. If your local library does not own a copy, ask for it to be sent from another library through interlibrary loan.
In this memoir, the author explores the events of illness from within. To illuminate what illness can teach us about life, he draws upon his own encounters with serious illness and offers insights into what happens when our bodies and emotions are pushed to extremes. Ultimately, he examines what it means to be human.
In this enduring guide to self-empowerment, Dr. Susan Jeffers outlines techniques and concepts that have helped many people grab hold of their fears and move forward with their lives.
The classic work on mindfulness, meditation, and healing. Kabat-Zinn is the founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
A practical guide for navigating the many challenges of living with a chronic condition, from career crises and relationship issues to struggles with self-blame, personal identity, and isolation.
Tips, suggestions and strategies to deal with chronic illness and symptoms. Originally based on a five-year study conducted at Stanford University, this work has grown to include the feedback of medical professionals and people with chronic conditions all over the world, including Canada.
With insight and humour, Chödrön presents down-to-earth guidance on how we can “start where we are” — embracing rather than denying the painful aspects of our lives.
Written by a blogger who suffers from an invisible chronic illness, this book offers peer-to-peer support to help you stay sane, be your own advocate, and get back to living your life.
Reflecting on her own experience with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, and integrating insights from psychology, religion, and other disciplines, a counselor sheds new light on the meaning of illness, recovery and healing.
Why do some people find and sustain hope during difficult circumstances, while others do not? With appreciation for the human elements and the science, Dr. Groopman explains how to distinguish true hope from false hope – and how to gain an honest understanding of the reach and limits of this essential emotion.
An expert of the psychology of shame presents advice on how to overcome paralyzing fears and self-consciousness, and at the same time increase feelings of self-worth, gratitude and acceptance.
A treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties. Companion title: The places that scare you: a guide to fearlessness in difficult times (2001). Also available on CD and as an audiobook.
Chronicles a patient’s true-life accounts and her physician’s compassionate commentary as they take a journey through the three stages of chronic illness: getting sick, being sick, and living well.
Goren A. Moving from survive to thrive. (2015). Presentation to Balance & Dizziness Canada.
Page updated August, 2019.