Chronic Health 101

"What's Next?"

by Matt Davey

What is Chronic-Health?

Chronic health includes any long-lasting health condition that requires ongoing medical attention and subsequently impacts a person’s quality of life (often with social and economic consequences).

1 in 2 Australians live with at least one chronic-health condition – these can vary in severity from conditions such as asthma, diabetes, mental health conditions, chronic pain to cancer and endometriosis.

For many people, having a CH condition can be overwhelming and hugely impact the ability to work, live independently and access appropriate support services. The subsequent effects of living with CH can often lead to worsening health outcomes, and a variety of other issues for patients.

Do I have a chronic-health condition?

For many people, they may not be aware that they have a CH condition, and how to access the right support. Check in with your GP to help you clarify any symptoms, and access specialists to ensure you receive the correct diagnosis and support.

After diagnosis, it can be a highly challenging time for people in terms of re-adjusting to their ‘new normal’. In some cases, it can mean a change of lifestyle – from work changes, need for additional support and managing an influx of new information (appointments, medications, specialist teams etc). Managing your health journey, and re-adjusting to life with chronic-health can be a challenge – for patients and their immediate support (family, friends, partner).

How can I manage my Chronic Health Journey?

Everyone is different. What works for someone else, may not work for you but there are a lot of different approaches to managing your health journey.

Researching your condition. Speaking to health experts. Accessing support groups. Getting a second (or third) opinion. Keeping a journal to track symptoms, mood and changes. Managing your appointments, results + medications. Asking questions.

What’s Next?

  • Be kind to yourself – you are at the start of a journey.
  • Speak to the experts – from your GP, to specialists + allied health professionals (psychologists, exercise physios etc).
  • Get organised – collate your health information, medical team, appointments and reminders in a central place – download the Mend app.
  • Access support – from your personal network (friends, family) to support groups, it is important to stay connected, informed and get to know your condition/s to better manage over time.
  • Listen to your body – make adjustments with work, lifestyle and rest. It is important to prioritise your health as much as possible.

Things I’ve Found Helpful:

  • Meditation
  • Therapy (especially when they’re the right personality fit, don’t give up after one bad session)
  • Exercise – walking, yoga, slow introduction back to a standard gym, exercise physio
  • Sharing my journey with others + getting insights from people within these community
  • Changing my thinking around work – 9 to 5 in an office isn’t fun for anyone, right!?
  • Rest days – taking time to recoup and listening to my body
  • Getting a second (third, forth, fifth) opinion from doctors – it is totally okay to do your research and find someone with good communication
  • Having a support person attend appointments – information overload is a thing!
  • Keeping track of appointments, medications, results and journaling – the Mend app is built for this
  • Setting a goal each day – big or small, but always achievable

Useful Links:

  • headspace.org.au
  • beyondblue.org.au
  • www.health.gov.au/health-topics/chronic-conditions
  • au.reachout.com/articles/living-with-a-chronic-illness

Thanks for reading.

Be Well,

Matt

Co-founder, Mend

*Please note that I am not a medical professional*

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