Learning to Live with Disappointment with Chronic Illness


Disappointment is often something that you live with when living with any chronic illness – due to fluctuating symptoms and flare ups we often have to miss special occasions or cancel plans with friends or family.  And followed by cancelling of plans, comes the inevitable pangs of disappointment of missing out on such occasions.  This disappointment is even more amplified when friends talk about how wonderful the night was; making you feel even more miserable that you missed out (again!).

I felt this pang of disappointment recently – one of my goals for the beginning of the year was to visit the cinema as I really want to see the film version of Les Misèrables.  However, when I attempted the trip to our local multiplex cinema, I was so overcome with the dizziness and vertigo that I was just unable to stay in the building.  Of course, I felt extremely disappointed – in myself and my broken brain; stopping me from enjoying something as ‘normal’ as visiting the cinema.  I all honestly, the experience made me feel like a failure – failure as I failed to achieve a goal that I so desperately wanted to accomplish.  Hopefully, this is a setback and one day I will be able to go into that cinema, and even be able to stay long enough to watch the film.

So how should we ‘spoonies’ cope with these inevitable disappointments when we are unable to attend events or accomplish goals we wanted to achieve?

Well,we fist need to acknowledge the disappointment and anger that we may feel towards the illness that often feels as having robbed our lives. Then after acknowledging the anger we then have to deal with it.  This could be going to counselling or attending a support group associated with your particular condition.

Educate yourself, of your condition – there is no such thing as an overeducated patient.  Read as much literature as you can; and learn how the disease or illness can affect the body.  This can make it easier to perhaps plan for such times when we are invited out somewhere or planning trips somewhere, and perhaps being able to come up with a ‘plan of attack’ – a plan for dealing with such problems that can arise as a result of the particular health condition.

Perhaps, the biggest lesson that I have learnt is that we are all more than our condition.  We, of course, need to acknowledge the existence of said disease or illness, however it does not need to be self-defining.  Although there may be certain activities or have certain limitations, there are still however, plenty of things that we ARE still able to do.

It is often important when dealing with disappointment after not achieving goals, it still to keep a positive attitude as research has shown that being positive despite illness makes it much more easier to cope with.  Be grateful for everything that you do have rather than focusing on everything we haven’t or focusing on pain or our negative situations.  Perhaps keep a gratitude journal and list all the things that we have been grateful for on that day.



How do you deal with disappointment?  And more importantly how do you cope with the disappointment?


6 thoughts on “Learning to Live with Disappointment with Chronic Illness

  1. Rhiann, That’s a post I believe anyone can relate to but most certainly those of us with chronic illness. Many times, disappointments can be avoided entirely by adjusting our expectations. Other times, they’re inevitable. Perhaps the key is understanding that for everything we can’t do, there’s something else we can. I’m still learning to lose my focus on the impossible or unfeasible and concentrate my attention on the possible and feasible. Quite the mighty task but well worth the effort. -Pamela-

    • Thank you once again for your reply and wise words Pam!

      Yes, you are certainly right by saying that by coping with disappointments we need to adjust our expectations on what may or may not be possible for us to achieve. I have now come to realise that although I am not able to access my local multiplex cinema, I instead have to travel further afield and instead access a different cinema – one which is smaller and without the very high ceilings. So, there is still hope that I may well see Les Miserables after all!!

  2. […] Inevitably. living with chronic illness, and the debilitating symptoms that they cause, can often leave us unable to go out with friends or family, and have to cancel plans.  This leads to disappointment on both sides – our friends as they were looking forward to seeing us and going out together, and also disappointment for us, the patient too, as it too often seems that living with illness stops us from living life to the full, and cancelling plans is something that if very often too necessary.  Check out a past post that I wrote on the subject after an unsuccessful trip to the cinema entitled ‘Learning to Live with Disappointment with Chronic Illness‘. […]

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