““chronically ill persons…observe their former self-images crumbling away without the simultaneous development of equally valued new ones. … The experiences and meanings upon which these ill persons had built former positive self-images are no longer available to them.”
Carolyn and Kathy describe the impact of this at the various stages of being a patient. Take, for example, pre-diagnosis:
“Physicians can discredit our own definitions of self when we’re seeking help for early troubling symptoms (e.g., when we try to convince a dismissive doctor: ‘I know my body, and something is just not right!’) Dr. Charmaz warns that physicians sometimes treat undiagnosed persons ‘as neurotics whose symptoms are either nonexistent or psychosomatic in origin, leaving the patients feeling unsupported…’”
This matches my experience.
“On one hand, you have those who are still living with the debilitating daily reality of chronic illness. These are not the same at all as those who at one time in the past may have had an episode of serious illness — but then got better. ‘For (the latter group), such periods of serious illness became the foundation for re-evaluation and change of self. These individuals (speak) of earlier crises as periods of time when they were free from the ordinary bonds of routine existence. That freedom heightened their consciousness of who they were and who they wished to become. For these people, illness became a tool of self-discovery and a fundamental source of later self-development.’”My illness provided time during which I re-evaluated who I was and wanted to be. Emerging from that time was a commitment to telling the story of my unnecessary healthcare nightmare and to find other ways via which I could help to bring about badly needed healthcare system change.
What sense of self will win out or emerge going forward?