PKD Mind Matters Blog
May 03, 2024

Beyond the Physical: Prioritizing Mental Wellness in Kidney Health | PKD Mind Matters

Self-care for people with kidney disease and their loved ones

Life with kidney disease can feel like a rollercoaster ride, filled with ups and downs, uncertainties, and unexpected turns. In the whirlwind of medical appointments, treatments, and lifestyle adjustments, people sometimes overlook the emotional toll this journey can take on people living with kidney disease and their loved ones.

In this blog post, we'll explore the often-overlooked aspect of mental health in the context of kidney disease, and offer practical tips for nurturing your well-being beyond the physical symptoms.



Navigating the emotional rollercoaster

Each stage of living with kidney disease comes with its own challenges. There are times when you’ll have to make big decisions about managing symptoms and treatments. You may need to adjust to a new lifestyle, or a changing body.

It's natural to experience a range of emotions along the way. Anxiety about the future, grief over the life you had and the life you looked forward to, and frustration with the limitations imposed by the condition are all valid feelings that many individuals with kidney disease experience.

Making space for all the emotions that you’re experiencing is an important part of self-care. Coping with the realities of a chronic illness is a journey in itself; one that requires patience, resilience, and self-compassion.



Cultivating self-care practices

When living with a chronic illness, prioritizing self-care becomes more important than ever. Taking time for yourself, even in small doses, can make a world of difference in managing your mental well-being.

Whether it's going for a walk in nature, indulging in a favorite hobby, or simply taking a few moments to breathe deeply and centre yourself, finding moments of peace and joy amidst the challenges can help replenish your spirit.



Building a support network

You don't have to navigate the ups and downs of kidney disease alone. Building a strong network of family, friends, and healthcare providers can provide invaluable emotional support along the way.

Whether it's a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear, or practical assistance with daily tasks, knowing that you have people who care about you and are there for you can provide a sense of comfort and reassurance.



Seeking professional help

If you find yourself struggling with persistent feelings of anxiety, depression, or overwhelming stress, don't hesitate to reach out for professional help. Therapists and support groups can provide valuable assistance in navigating the emotional challenges of kidney disease. Seeking help is a sign of strength, and you deserve to receive the care you need both physically and emotionally.

Taking the step to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor can be transformative for your mental health journey. When selecting a therapist, consider the advantage of finding someone who not only specializes in mental health but also possesses a deep understanding of the unique challenges associated with kidney disease.

With this knowledge, a therapist can offer valuable insights and tailored support, eliminating the need for you to explain various procedures or medical interventions. This saves you time and emotional energy, allowing you to focus directly on expressing and processing your emotions and concerns.

With their familiarity with managing chronic illnesses like kidney disease, therapists can provide practical coping strategies to address your specific needs. Remember, finding the right therapist is a personal journey, so explore different options until you find someone who feels like the right fit for you.



Be kind to yourself

Living with kidney disease encompasses both physical and emotional challenges. From coming to terms with the diagnosis to navigating treatment decisions and coping with the day-to-day realities, the emotional toll can be significant.

By prioritizing mental wellness, building a support network, and seeking professional help when needed, individuals can find strength, resilience, and yes, even joy.

Remember, you are not alone on this journey, and there is support and guidance available to help you navigate the ups and downs with courage and compassion.

This blog was originally published on the author's website, © 2024, reposted with permission.

You might also be interested in these past presentations about mental health and PKD:

Video - Managing Anxiety and Depression with PKD (October 2021)

Video - Managing Depression and Anxiety with Polycystic Kidney Disease (August 2020)



About the Author

Joy Pekar, Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)

As a therapist and caregiver to loved ones navigating kidney disease (polycystic kidney disease), Joy offers a unique blend of professional skills and personal experiences. She has been there with her loved ones, from diagnosis to dialysis and transplant, through many medical hurdles, life-altering decisions, and emotional complexities firsthand. She understands that each person’s experience with kidney disease is unique, and is open to chat with you about yours if you’d like to connect.