Guilt – How It Affects Those With Chronic Illness

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Guilt So how many of us have nights like I’m having tonight, my whole existence is shadowed by guilt. I would guess most of will. Nothing I say, nothing I do, nothing can make this night easier. It’s actually been this way for several days, the never ending cycle of guilt! All of us who suffer from chronic illness/pain know this dance all too well.

Nothing we can do or say will ease the feelings we have about living the life we are living. We can try to justify it to ourselves, we can try to do anything within our power to ease the uneasiness that exists, but nothing will heal the feelings we are dealing with day in and day out that are GUILT!

Dealing with chronic illness and chronic pain on a daily basis is a job in and of itself, but the “consequences” of this are far greater that our family or friends understand, no matter how supportive and understanding they are.

The guilt we feel rears its ugly head in every aspect of our lives each and every day. And, as much as the pain and fatigue wear us down more than we can handle, this thing called guilt shows up and trumps it all. People will always say, “How you respond to something is up to you.” Or, “don’t let that bother you.” Phrases like this can sometimes intensify the feelings we are already having and make them a hundred times harder to deal with.

Those of us who deal with chronic illness experience such a wide array of thoughts and feelings and trying to deal with those, and navigate as normal a life as we can have is a difficult task. Unfortunately, some days/nights are harder to deal with these feelings as others and when our day to day existence is affected, this makes things more difficult.

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I recently wrote an article titled, “I Want to Die!” Now this specific thought/idea/feeling was not purely literal, the thought behind it is very real. From the day we are starting to feel something is wrong, to the day we are FINALLY diagnosed, our minds, hearts and body go through a heck of a roller coaster ride to deal with this “thing” we now live. We experience such a wide variety of emotions that it is so hard to define all of them as well as try to process them.

I believe however that guilt is the worst and most damaging feeling that we will experience and have to try to process. And it is a feeling that will touch almost every part of our life. But, I’m not sure if there is ever a good way to deal with it. Guilt will rear its ugly head no matter what we try to do with it. So what parts of our life does it really touch? For me, right now, the guilt slaps me across the face the hardest is when we are trying to talk about family finances.

First and foremost is that chronic illness/pain affects everyone differently and impacts our lives very different. Unfortunately, the reality I have to deal with is the physical limitations that come with chronic illness and not being able to work anymore as well as the implications this has on my family and their future. Finances are the heart of every family, our lives are lived according to money and what we can and cannot afford.

While it is easy to say that we can just change our budget and live within our means, it’s harder to do. Going from a two income family to a one income family will defiantly take its toll. The mere “way of life” we were once used to will do a complete 180* change from what we are used to.

The term budget will take on a whole new meaning and for most of us, if not all of us and we will have to rethink that budget. The deep sighs when looking at the mail, the “unseen” eye-rolls, the body language we see will tell us what we already knew, life will never be the same. We will no longer be able to assist with the financial obligations we have. Our physical limitations will also add to the guilt we are already struggling with.

The activities we had to miss, the family time that took a back seat, and most of all, the things we did to make our family what is was, are now gone. The clean house that used to be, the laundry that used to be folded and ready to put away, the dishes that were clean and ready to use were on hand, the meals that were hot, ready to go are no longer, and the day to day things we are not longer able to do, scream at us and remind us of the limitations we are now living. We are finding that we are not longer able to provide for our family financially, physically, or mentally. The essential things we need to help heal are the things our family needs to survive.

We are no longer able to do or give these gifts as we used to. From now on, we stumble along and do what we can and give shat we can, but the guilt will still remain. So, if anyone out there can solve the guilt, or teach us how to deal with it, I’m all ears! For now, be gentle with yourselves, give yourself a break and take time to help yourself live as positive a life as you are able to.


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