Sunday, June 29, 2008

The mental aspect of a physical illness

I was diagnosed with renal failure in July 1997. This was a purely physiological disease with no mental ramifications whatsoever. But when I introspect, I find that there have been some unmistakable mental symptoms.

For example, I am not as confident about myself now as I was in the summer of 97. Back then, I had just completed my Chemical Engineering, won the gold medal in fact, US I20 in hand, visa just stamped, ready to take on the world. Nothing could come in my way. I was sure of a bright future. I was good.

Now, when I think of myself then, I find such a big difference. Now, I am full of self doubt. I am not sure of myself. I am not positive about my future. There are problems and I'm not sure how I will overcome them. In many aspects. I'm not sure how my health will turn out. I'm not sure how my career will shape up.

Its not that I'm depressed all the time. I'm depressed only rarely. Which cannot be uncommon in someone with a chronic illness. But my self confidence has reduced considerably over the last eleven odd years.

Also, earlier, I thrived in company, among friends, in a group. Nowadays, I enjoy periods of solitude. Well, I do still enjoy company but I never enjoyed being alone earlier.

Why might this have happened? Honestly, I have no idea. Its not as if I 'blame' myself for this.

Do others with chronic illnesses face this? I wonder.

2 comments:

Akbar Pasha said...

Victor Frankl talks about 3 central values in life:

1. Experiential - that which happens to us
2. Creative - that which we bring into existence
3. Attitudinal - our response to difficult circumstances or chronic illness.

Out of all these 3 values 'Attitudinal' is the highest. Difficult circumstances create difficult paradigm shifts. May be something like that is happening to you. All these 11 years you might have been 'reacting' to your illness(waiting for it to be over with). May be now is the time you 'respond' to it.

I am not implying you never tried or anything like that. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been to begin with. But I think these internal behaviour changes you are observing within you have a deep meaning and I think your paradigms are shifting.

Victor Fankl wrote a bunch of good books. May be you will find further meaning and inspiration there.

billpeckham.com said...

I believe seeing the world through the lens of CKD changes how you see the world and yourself. How could it not? I was diagnosed with CKD under similar circumstances - I had just graduated from college - for me the journey has been marked by learning to let go of expectations.

This freedom from expectations is liberating but at the same time it creates a void. I think I have always enjoyed a degree of solitude. However, now I think I have taken it too far.

One thing that has happened in just the last years - I would say three years - is I no longer follow sports. I use to follow baseball and (American) football in their seasons but I haven't the slightest idea about this year's baseball season.

Well, I do know that my childhood team the Cubs are doing very well, they are famously unaccomplished. They last won a championship in 1908 - yes exactly 100 years ago. I suppose if they were to advance to the playoffs in September/October I would again pay attention but I would have to accept that I am the type of fan that I disparaged just five years ago - a fair weather fan.

I guess I am rambling but I wanted to say that I have noticed deep changes in my interests and what I think of as important. I am sure life would be very different without my CKD lens but I am not sure I can say it would be better. I would hope it would be better but perhaps I would be leading a life of going from one distraction to another. I'm not sure that would be better.