The term “chronic” refers to a group of illnesses that are permanent or that last a long time. It may be that the illness slowly gets worse over time, causing permanent changes to the body, or that the illness eventually goes away. Chronic illness may affect your quality of life and management of the illness can minimize its effects.
Living with a chronic illness. It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed when you are first diagnosed with a chronic condition. It may be the first time that you have had to think seriously about your health and about the future. Chronic illnesses may also require changes to your lifestyle. It can be a big adjustment to make.
Learn as much as you can about it – get all the facts! Knowing information about the condition may make you feel more comfortable and in control. Find good supports. Friends and family can be valuable sources of support. Other good avenues for support may be medical specialists, your local doctor, counselor, or other mental health professionals, or another person with the illness.
Speak to someone with your illness. When diagnosed with a chronic illness you may feel different from other people. This can be really scary and frustrating. Speaking to people who have the same illness may help reduce this feeling of isolation. Organizations that specialize in your illness should be able to put you in touch with people with your condition. Volunteering with the organization might also help you connect to people with your illness.
Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.