Emotions are a normal, healthy part of the human experience. Living with a chronic condition like glaucoma can cause you to feel a variety of emotions, including grief and loss.
This may be due to an actual loss, such as loss of vision, or potential loss, such as a loss of what you thought your life was going to be like. Or, if you’re anticipating losing your vision, you may be experiencing some of those emotions leading up to that loss. If you’re going through multiple losses at the same time, that can become what is called complicated grief. So, if you’ve lost a loved one right around the time that you received a glaucoma diagnosis, you might have different emotions related with both losses that might feel conflicting at times.
Depression, fear, worry, stress, and anxiety are also common emotions when dealing with glaucoma. If depression and anxiety are becoming debilitating, it’s important to talk to your doctor and discuss whether you should seek help. There can also be feelings of shame or embarrassment, even self-blame, the sense that you brought this on yourself. There might also be guilt associated with that. But, like everyone else, you will experience happy emotions as well. Just because you are living with glaucoma doesn’t mean that you can’t also experience hope, joy, contentment, and gratitude.
Caregivers tend to also experience a unique type of stress and sometimes depression. 40% to 70% of caregivers have been shown to experience depression. So, if you are a caregiver having these kinds of emotions, and if you haven’t talked to someone about it yet, this is a reminder to take care of your own emotional needs so you can continue to support others.
There are many ways to manage your emotional well-being. Pay attention to what helps you feel less stressed. There are a lot of things in our culture — societal pressures, advertisements, social media — that may not actually be useful for you, your life, and your situation. It’s important to pay attention to what helps you feel less stressed and gives you a sense of peace and ease. Set boundaries to avoid toxic people in your life who consistently cause stress for you.
Daily self-care, moderate exercise, restful sleep, and healthy meals are also important. Find support and take control of your life where you can. Being an advocate for your own health care, asking your doctor questions, and getting involved in your treatment will help you feel more in control of your diagnosis.
Article by Allison Fine, MSW, LICSW. Posted on March 21, 2023.
Allison Fine, MSW, LICSW
Allison Fine, MSW, LICSW is a clinical social worker supporting clients with both emotional and physical challenges in Seattle, WA. She founded the Center for Chronic Illness to better meet the emotional needs of those impacted by ongoing health challenges.