3 tips on how to stay positive despite being affected with Castleman disease!
Published Aug 23, 2022 • By Léo Benita
Having Castleman disease can significantly affect your mood. It is difficult to stay positive when you have a chronic health condition, and you can quickly find yourself under psychological stress which is added to the physical suffering. In this article, you will find 3 tips on how to live happily despite having Castleman disease.
Find the tips in our article below!
Surround yourself by your loved ones, be part of the community!
An essential source of fulfillment is found in interaction with others. Indeed, a Harvard Medical School study, which followed 724 men over 75 years, found that those who maintained quality relationships with their family, friends, or community were both happier and healthier.
There are many ways to stay socially active and to avoid isolation that is both morally and physically damaging.
For example, joining a club for a creative activity (photography, drawing, pottery, etc.) can provide an opportunity to meet people with the same interests as you, and enjoy a stimulating activity. Volunteering for a local charity or support group is a way to create social links while giving back to the community. It has been proven that helping others has a very positive impact on our emotional state!
Reconnecting with long-lost friends or colleagues, going out for a drink, a meal, going to the cinema, etc. can also help renew friendships that can contribute to personal development.
Finally, there are digital solutions to creating and maintaining social relationships. For example, dating applications allow you to quickly get to know new people. As for Carenity, this site allows people with Castleman disease to exchange experiences, advice and support in everything that concerns the condition.
Express your gratitude!
The feeling of gratitude has been shown to increase happiness and to have many benefits for our physical health. Indeed, a grateful attitude enhances appreciation of the positive things in life, which promotes fulfillment and relaxation. Feeling gratitude also tends to improve sleep, strengthen the immune system, and decrease the release of the stress hormone cortisol.
To practice feeling gratitude, there is a simple but effective exercise: every night at bedtime, think about 3 positive things that happened to you during the day and for which you can feel grateful. This can be a piece of good news, a small victory or a shared smile, but also more fundamental things, such as enjoying one's 5 senses, or simply being alive. This exercise helps us to learn to appreciate the positive even during the most difficult times, and to see the value of simple things that are too often taken for granted.
A Carenity member with a chronic illness describes his experience of gratitude as "the joy of just getting up, hearing the birds sing or the wind in the trees, enjoying a moment of relaxation...".
Jean-Pierre, also a Carenity member, says that cancer has allowed him to "appreciate daily life even more". Despite all the constraints, he sees the disease as "a real life experience", and considers that "life is also about managing good and bad moments".
Another member added that "little by little, gratitude requires less and less effort, and becomes a state of mind that encourages recognition for all that is good in life. You start to appreciate what you can do, instead of what you can't do".
Deliberately directing our attention to the little (or not so little) things we can enjoy, and becoming fully aware of their value, helps us adopt a more optimistic attitude that can contribute to daily happiness, and help us to be positive in the face of illness.
Stoicism: looking at things from a new perspective!
Stoicism is a school of thought developed by Greek and Roman philosophers. It has influenced many of the great figures of history, and has a particular resonance in the hardships of a chronic illness.
This doctrine encourages us to distinguish between two categories of things in life: those that are under our control and those that are not. According to this doctrine, it is useless to spend our energy on things we cannot change, and it is better to detach ourselves from them and devote ourselves fully to the things that we can change.
This means that, for example, complaining about a train delay, a stain on a new piece of clothing, or bad weather, will not improve the situation. Similarly, complaining about being too short or having brown eyes will not change our appearance, and focusing on all the negative consequences of an illness will not make them go away. Everyone has their own set of difficulties imposed to us by life itself. We can always imagine a less difficult life, or a more difficult one. But stoicism considers that such comparisons do not bring us anything positive. According to stoicism, our real power that helps us live a happier life, is choosing our attitude and state of mind, in the face of life's trials.
According to stoicism, it is an illusion to dream of a life without difficulties. Instead, choosing to face adversity by staying true to our values, picking ourselves up after failures, and seeing how they make us grow, is what really defines us.
Steve, a patient with idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease, says: "The disease has been a blessing in disguise. It has made me a better person and a better husband. It has taught me what is really important in life". Owen, a chronically ill patient, adds: "Illness can't affect whether you live a good life or not. The only thing that matters is how you deal with events". He continues: "Facing difficulties with discipline and courage has allowed me to keep going, and to be grateful for every victory, because I know that I am doing my best to live a good life, despite the limitations of the disease".
In short, stoicism invites us to accept the things that do not depend on us, in order to better realize our power over those that do depend on us. We may consider it unfair to be ill while our neighbor is healthy, but making peace with this situation can be liberating and can allow us to better grasp the possibilities available to us, in order to live our life to the fullest.
Castleman disease can be a very difficult experience, with a heavy impact on our state of mind. But sharing with others, practising gratitude, and adopting a new perspective that stoicism can offer, are some of the tools that can help us regain control of our own life. They can help us break the vicious circle of despondency and pessimism, to achieve a new, more positive and serene balance, and to live happily despite the disease.
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Saphire-Bernstein, S., & Taylor, S. (2013). Close Relationships and Happiness. Oxford Handbooks Online. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199557257.013.0060
Watkins, P., McLaughlin, T., & Parker, J. (2020). Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being. Research Anthology On Rehabilitation Practices And Therapy, 1737-1759. doi: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3432-8.ch088
Watkins, P., Woodward, K., Stone, T., & Kolts, R. (2003). GRATITUDE AND HAPPINESS: DEVELOPMENT OF A MEASURE OF GRATITUDE, AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING. Social Behavior And Personality: An International Journal, 31(5), 431-451. doi: 10.2224/sbp.2003.31.5.431
CDCN - Steve Zalkin’s testimony
How Stoicism Has Helped Me Live with Chronic Illness
What Is Stoicism? A Definition & 9 Stoic Exercises To Get You Started, Daily Stoic
Malgré mon cancer colorectal, je suis un papi heureux