I recently read the blog post “How to Have a Healthy Relationship with your Body, Even with Chronic Illness” written by Sheryl Chan of The Chronic Voice (https://www.achronicvoice.com/2018/02/05/healthy-relationship-body-chronic-illness/). Sheryl explored the idea that the relationship we have with our bodies echoes the relationship we have with other people. This gave me a new perspective on my journey of maintaining a balanced life with chronic illnesses.
As I recall from a Human Development class I took in college, the components of a healthy relationship are: trust, open communication, intimacy, commitment, and respect. These factors can be applied to how the conscious mind works with the physical body.
- Trust – This is a difficult element for one with Chronic Illness. For example, in a normal body when one eats carbohydrates the pancreas secretes insulin to off-set the increase in blood sugar to keep the blood sugar stable. In my case with Diabetes, my body does not secrete insulin. I need to inject insulin in my body so my blood sugar will stay stable. Therefore, my body is dependent on me to supply its needs. My body needs to trust I will give it what it needs and I need to trust myself to provide it. Taking all of my medicines regularly will ensure my body functions to the optimum level.
- Open communication – With Psoriatic Arthritis I need to pace my activities in order to prevent a flair up of pain. If I am not doing well when I wake in the morning I need to limit my activities for the remainder of the day in order to decrease the pain level. To add another example in regards to Diabetes, when I don’t eat my blood sugar goes down. If it goes too far down I can pass out. It is important for me to eat to maintain normal blood sugar. This means it is crucial for me to listen when my body sends me warnings.
- Intimacy – Wow! I definitely am intimate with my body. I know every part of my body and what causes me pain. I can identify when new ailments occur which helps in preventing complications of my illnesses in the future.
- Commitment – I need to be committed to giving my body the proper nutrients and limit sugar and carbohydrates to keep it functioning well. In addition it is important I keep moving my body (exercise) in order to prevent further deterioration of my joints due to Arthritis. Furthermore, I need to be committed to taking my medications regularly to prevent further difficulties in the future such as taking my antidepressants to avoid a Depression episode.
- Respect – This ties into communication, listening to the signals my body is giving me. I understand that my body can no longer function in the same way it did before I developed the chronic illnesses. I need to respect my body’s boundaries.
This new outlook has opened my eyes to how much mind does control matter. I am much more aware and in tune to how my behavior affects my overall health. I feel this will make a significant difference in how I approach taking care of my body.