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Chronic Illness - Chronic Pain Articles Available to Read and Reprint

How Does a Chronic Illness Affect a Person's Self Esteem?
Chronic Illness is Hard on Your Self-Worth:

By Lisa Copen

I used to feel like I could do anything," shares Sharon. "It was easy for me to build myself up if I had a presentation or walked into a roomful of strangers. But now, I feel like I am not as ‘worthy’ as I once was. I look different, I can’t do the things I once did, and worst of all, I feel different. I am not the same person I was before my illness."

How does a chronic illness affect a person's self esteem? Chronic illness and daily pain have a way of entering into our life and draining us of the feelings of worthiness we once may have had. Some of us never really felt confident to begin with. Now having to park in the disabled spot despite the glares, or use a cane causing stares, feels like someone took a blow to what little self-esteem we had. What is it about pain that causes us to feel less of a person that we once did and how can we regain the confidence that we once had in ourselves back? Body image and illness is can cause great confusion with our self-esteem. And we have many questions: Will i lose the weight i gain on prednisone?

We expect a great deal out of ourselves. Perhaps it’s just a matter of perspective. Are you expecting more out of yourself than is realistic? Give yourself a break!

I remember going to church one morning despite horrendous pain. Before the service began I just decided to go home and go back to bed, but I shared my guilty feelings with my girlfriend. "But my husband didn’t sleep much last night and he has to stay (he’s in the band)." "And he doesn’t have arthritis flaring in every part of his body!" she said. "Oh yeah," I thought. "I guess it’s okay for me to realize that I have nothing to feel guilty about. I am in a lot of pain!"

Romans 12: 3 says, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Are you being objective about your abilities? My mom always told me, "You’re just as good as everyone else, and you aren’t any better than anyone else!" She had learned this from her mother who often said, "We all put our pants on one leg at a time."

While it is healthy to believe in our abilities, given to us through Christ Jesus, we must also acknowledge our limitations and work within them, not fight them. We are to examine them with "sober judgement..."

We are putting to much emphasis on our outward appearances. I struggle with this fact every day. Some people deal with great weight loss due to illness. For me, the effects of medications and lack of exercise has not given me a body in which I am comfortable nor proud because I've gained weight. Oh, how I miss that old me who once enjoyed shopping for clothes. Now it even hurts to get dressed. Pain caused me to quickly exchange beauty for comfortableness, when it came to clothing, but along with it I exchanged my pride with a lower self-image.

How eager I am to make another exchange! "...Jesus Christ will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body" (Phil 3:21). I know what it’s like to live with a body that you do not feel pride in, a body in which causes daily frustrations. The only advice that I can suggest is to pray daily that God will restore your self-image into that which he has given you through Him. Do not be tempted to place your standards as high as the world’s standards.

We place our value in our accomplishments rather than in God. "I used to be such a busy-body," explains Tina. "But after I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome I let everything go. I quit my clubs, I lost friends because I kept canceling, I quit volunteering. I also lost my sense of worth, though, because I wasn’t receiving praise from anyone any longer."

God loves us for who we are and doesn’t expect us to put our value in our accomplishments. Eph 2:10 says "...we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Did you know that God prepared in advance for this time in your life? What’s your definition of "good works?" God isn’t relaying the message "Get yourself out there and get to work!" Rather, He is emphasizing that He has planned for this time in your life, even if it seems a bit quiet and unproductive.

Remember, He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6) While we're asking ourselves, "What is weight loss in an illness?" or "What is the best prednisone weight gain prevention?" we must try to forget what is behind and strive for what is ahead (Phil. 3:13). God has great things in store for you and he already knows all your physical limitations.

Get a free download of 200 ways to reach out to someone who is hurting from Beyond Caseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend when you sign up for hopenotes, a monthly ezine. Author of this article, Lisa Copen is also the founder of Rest Ministries and National Invisible Illness Awareness Week.





Don't forget! This article can be reprinted for free or syndicate Lisa's new articles.