Learning that you have a chronic illness after divorce is never easy. A chronic illness will change your life and may mean that you need to make significant lifestyle changes, from starting up a new diet to potentially changing your career.
These illnesses can also be expensive, especially with recurrent doctor’s appointments, medications, and therapies that are often needed to manage these conditions.
But as difficult as being diagnosed with a chronic illness may be on a typical day, when you receive that diagnosis right before or after a divorce, it’s even more challenging to deal with the news. If you’re dealing with this kind of diagnosis after getting divorced, you’ll need to take some steps and make some changes to navigate this news.
Here’s How to Deal With Chronic Illness After Divorce
Get Help From Your Doctor
Your doctor, or team of doctors, will be one of your main partners in navigating this new illness. You’ll probably work closely with your doctor to design a treatment and management plan. It’s important to tell your doctor about your divorce since the trauma of a divorce can take a toll on your mental and physical health. When your doctor understands how the event may affect your current health and condition, he or she can provide trauma-informed care that will probably help you more than a traditional care approach would at this time.
In addition to disclosing the news about your divorce to your doctor, ask your doctor to connect you to any additional types of help that you may need. One of the most important ways your doctor may be able to help is by providing you with resources so that you can fully understand and process your chronic illness. Your doctor should be able to help you understand what the illness means in terms of both short-term and long-term limitations and lifestyle changes that you may need to make. If local chronic illness support groups exist, your doctor may be able to help connect you to them so that you have an additional form of support.
Consider Working from Home
Your diagnosis may create a financial strain, especially if you need expensive treatments or have to leave your job to prioritize your health. Your divorce has probably already strained your finances, so you likely need to find a way to keep working during this time.
If traveling into work is impractical, research whether or not you are able to work from home. Working from home is ideal for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses since it can eliminate issues like lack of office accessibility, long commutes, and other challenges. Your current employer may be open to a remote work arrangement, but if they aren’t, there are still many opportunities you could pursue. Certain industries, like the customer service, consulting, and telecommute industries, tend to have more jobs that allow employees to work remotely.
In addition to considering traditional employment, you might want to explore freelancing. If you have a certain skill, like writing, designing, or marketing, you may be able to find freelance work that gives you unparalleled scheduling flexibility. This can be an advantage since you can take the time off you need for doctor’s appointments, but be sure that you look into the costs of health insurance policies available for freelancers before going freelance.
Make Sure Your House Is Keeping You Healthy
As you learn how to best regulate and live with your illness, you’ll need to support other elements of your health, too. Because you spend so much time at home, start by making sure that your house is helping to keep you healthy, rather than contributing to poor health. Monitor your home for issues like drafty doors, which can affect your indoor temperatures; mice and rodents, which can pose a health risk; and leaks, which can lead to mold and threaten your health.
It’s also important to focus on your air conditioner’s maintenance. To keep your air conditioner running well, you’ll need to regularly clean the unit, including replacing the filter. Depending on the size of your air conditioner, you may choose to tackle this task yourself or hire a professional to help. Regular maintenance can help the unit to last longer, offer reliable cooling, and send only clean air into your home.
Poor indoor air quality can cause many health issues, like dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and nausea. These issues can exacerbate the symptoms of your newly diagnosed chronic illness. And if you are exposed to poor air quality for long periods of time, you could face serious issues like respiratory disease and heart disease.
If you suspect your home has poor indoor air quality, your HVAC system could be to blame. Contaminants like dust and debris can block your HVAC filter, causing it to malfunction. To ensure that the air you’re breathing is clean and safe, put your HVAC system on a professional maintenance plan. By supporting your overall health, you’ll make it easier to manage your chronic illness.
Focus on Your Mental Health
This is also the time to seek counseling help for your mental health. Mental illness and divorce are often linked, and even after a divorce, you may be dealing with some feelings of uncertainty and loss. If you’ve divorced a spouse who had a mental illness, you may experience feelings of guilt and mourning.
Remember, too, that in addition to the stress and emotional weight of a divorce, your illness diagnosis can essentially turn your world upside-down, too. Chronic illness can affect mental health, and those who have chronic illnesses are twice as likely to also suffer from depression as people who are physically healthy.
Even if you think that your mental health is fine, make seeing a counselor a part of your management plan, at least while you get used to your new life and new diagnosis. A counselor can help you to establish new relationships and support systems in place of the support you once found in your spouse.