It’s not uncommon to feel you get left behind in life due to your illness or injury or caring responsibilities. It can happen in variety of ways.

It may be that you’re still at an earlier level in your career as compared to peers. That can happen when you have to devote time to hospital appointments, treatments, surgeries, recuperation or caring responsibilities.

Between getting ill/injured or caring and getting back to life, you can feel out of touch with your friends. They have continued with life whilst it feels you’ve had to step out of it. When you step back in, it’s like you’re on a different path. You have a whole bunch of other stuff to contend with that they don’t. And they may come across as oblivious as to what you’ve had to deal with.

Or you can’t do as much due to fatigue, pain, mobility issues, caring responsibilities or something else. So you have to cancel plans, or leave engagements early, or you can take part in an activity but not in the way the majority can.

Want to move beyond feeling like you’ve been left behind in your life due to your illness, injury or caring responsibilities?

It’s not fun to feel like that

In fact, it can suck.

So what do you do when you find yourself in a situation like this?

The picture is of three women walking along and having fun chatting. A woman is walking behind them struggling to keep up. Her hip is hurting. She is thinking: "I just can't keep up. And they look like they are having fun." The caption reads: When you get behind in your life due to your illness, injury or caring responsibilities." The point is that you can feel left behind in life due to your illness, injury or caring role.

Here are the five things you can do when you get left behind in life due to your illness, injury or a caring role

There are 5 things you can do to move beyond feeling like you get left behind in your life due to your #illness #injury or #caring responsibilities. Read them here Click To Tweet

1. Recognise what’s going on for a start.

There’s are several comparisons that can often happen.

The obvious comparison is comparing yourself to your peers, to what they can do and you cannot.

The second comparison is comparing the you now and your current capabilities to your previous self and his/her capabilities. But is it that fair comparison? It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Yet I totally appreciate how that happens. Because you used to be able to do what your peers are doing. AND you enjoyed that activity and all it represents, i.e. a good time, sense of belonging, the contribution you made, etc.

The can be a third comparison of your life now as compared to what it should have been.

With any of these comparisons you can get that feeling of getting left behind in life due to your illness or injury. All these comparisons can be a lot for you to hold. They can be draining. So notice this is happening, be gentle with yourself and move on to step 2.

2. Acknowledge how you feel about it.

You may feel left out, left behind, sad and upset, alone, angry, frustrated or something else. It’s important to acknowledge that to yourself. It’s a way to validate your feelings and experience which is a psychologically healthy thing to do.

3. Mourn for what you’re not getting to experience

What you’re experiencing in these moments is a sense of loss. Whether that relates to not being able to take part in a favourite activity, make a contribution in a way you value, feel a sense of belonging with a friendship group, or something else.

Mourning what you have lost is also a psychological healthy thing to do. But it may not be easy. The feelings it brings up can feel unpleasant and negative. And you might worry they will never go away. They do pass. But for that to happen, you have to let yourself feel them.

An original quote by Return To Wellness® states: "Motion is in the word 'emotion' for a reason. Emotions are meant to move through you. But you have to let them do that so you don't get stuck in them."

4. Create a life so you get to experience what you value

This is about adapting how you approach activities you enjoy so you can take part in a way that you’re happy with. Or finding new activities. And by activities, I mean the job you do for a living, volunteering opportunities, hobbies, interests, and social engagements for example. It may also include developing new friendships.

To create a life you value and find worthwhile living requires you to do that with intention.  By that I mean to have a good think about what you want for yourself and your life, what you desire, developing a plan to achieve that, and then take action.

5. Recognise that you are on a different journey which is personal to you

You may have moments where you slip back into making comparisons that leave you feeling upset and frustrated. Given we humans are social beings, it is a human thing to do.

It’s about reminding yourself that this is about you focusing on you, your needs, your goals, what you’re learning and your journey. Your peers are on their journey. You are on your journey. And it’s about how you can make your journey one that you feel is worthwhile to be on.

What’s it like for you when you get left behind in life due to your illness or injury or caring responsibilities?

What triggers it? How do you feel? And how have you coped? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, you can


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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2021

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