Illness can be a major contribution of stress. Being told your loved one has an illness that may be life threatening can bring fear and uncertainty into the equation.
The feelings I had when my mum was told she had lung cancer was one of disbelief. The more I thought about her, the more dread I felt. I also knew I wasn’t good at being around illness and although I’m very spiritual and I understood her illness and wasn’t scared to lose her, seeing her deteriorate in front of my eyes unnerved me.
Years on, I have autism and that is the reason why. For my mum dealing with her illness must have brought about uncertainty and stress for her. With a terminal illness, the obvious challenges are the physical pain and tiredness that come with the illness. Then there are the feelings of despondency, as the illness changes our appearance physically.
I know my mum coped even less when her appearance began to change. Although her friends understood why her appearance would change, my mum didn’t cope well with the concept of her friends seeing her. For her it was about losing control of her looks, her positive self-image would disappear. She became more isolated and eventually she withdrew from seeing friends.
Life changing experiences such as illness can bring about a loss of control and anxiety by association. Worries about the financial implications and not being able to work, bring about more stress. Stress brought about through illness can lead to anger, frustration and in some cases depression.
My family, were catapulted into a different world as soon as my mum got her diagnosis. Although the changes were happening to my mum, her family we were embroiled in it too. Helping her cope and helping each other cope, whilst having to cope emotionally wasn’t easy.
My mum was an inspiration throughout her illness. She stayed in control of her thoughts, never moaned or asked ‘why me?’ She bore her illness with dignity and just got on with her life as much as she could.
The spiritual ties I talk about in my journals, we’re my mum’s beliefs too. I think that helped her stay calm. It helped me understand why. She was inspirational that way.