“Chronic pain is not all about the body, and it’s not all about the brain- it’s everything. Target everything. Take back your life.”-Sean Mackey, MD, PhD
Living with Chronic Illness:
Does your teenager live with chronic illness? Does it feel like they are alone on an island in their misery? Are they struggling with an autoimmune disorder, POTS, Ehlers-Danlos, Lyme, or some other disorder that is making them a shadow of their former self?
One of the hardest things chronically ill teens face is very few of their peers understand the experience. When you’re 16, almost nobody else is dealing with daily pain, exhaustion, difficulty with digestion, brain fog, etc. Every chronically ill teenager I’ve worked with has needed to process and grieve the experience of being “different” than their friends.
You Might Be Asking:
- Will my teenager be able to have normal relationships?
- Is my teen developing resentment or bitterness?
- How much of my child’s pain is due to the illness, and how much is due to the depression caused by having an illness?
- How hard should my teenager be pushed?
- How can my teen have the happiest life possible given their limitations?
- Should I allow my teen to persist in their isolation?
Why I Love Working With Chronically Ill Teens:
As someone who lives with Lupus, I (Lauren) had to wrestle with all these questions after my diagnosis. It took me time to learn I can have joy despite having physical pain. I now know how to participate in my life even if I often must modify activities.
A few years into my journey with my autoimmune disorder, I found myself working with more and more chronically ill teens in therapy. This has become my favorite counseling work. Call me selfish, but it gives meaning and purpose to my having an incurable autoimmune disease. These teens and I have developed a strong therapeutic bond because we understand each other in a way that many others cannot.
Goals for Counseling with Chronically Ill Adolescents:
When working with your teenager, I hope to help you and your child have the space to feel the myriad of emotions that come with your teen’s difficult diagnosis. After working through the emotional pain and grief, I want to help your child find joy even with chronic illness. I want to see your teen tolerate what limitations must be accepted, challenge those that can improve, and start an open-minded path of self-discovery. If your adolescent can no longer play contact sports, maybe they eventually find joy in playing music (for example). My hope is your teen will no longer languish, focusing on what they can’t do. I want your teenager to realize they are a gift from God and that they still have a beautiful purpose in life.