Strategies for moving beyond the illness in early schizophrenia and in chronic kidney disease.
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Although the literature suggests that loss of self is a universal concern across chronic illnesses in general, little consideration has been given to loss of self across physical and mental illnesses. The authors compare loss of self in individuals with a mental illness (early schizophrenia) and in those with a physical illness (chronic kidney disease). In this secondary analysis, focus group data from 2 samples are examined for similarities and differences in the emergent themes. While striving to be my best self getting on with life was an overarching goal for both groups, the strategies for achieving it differed. The participants engaged in activities related to approaching the illness, accommodating, and connecting in order to strike a balance between the demands of the illness and non-illness aspects of their lives. The commonalities in the wish to be my best self that were found in both groups indicate that the wish to preserve a sense of self beyond the illness may not be illness-specific. The preliminary results of this secondary analysis suggest that building a positive sense of self in the face of illness is a critical part of illness adjustment and that there are opportunities for nurses and researchers to learn about the spectrum of strategies employed by individuals as they strive to move beyond the illness.
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