Not long ago, my thoughts and my emotions revolved around everything but being sick. But in 2008, I went from being healthy and active to being miserable overnight. Everything that I ever had control of changed.
Being sick, I realized that chronic illness and pain sidelines you and the fatigue takes away all your energy, leaving you unable to function and or even to focus on what matters. Every day activities such as housework or grocery shopping can be difficult to do. In fact, there were times where I had to walk out of the grocery store leaving behind a full cart because I was too worn from just walking around the store. I recall spending days trying to avoid activity in fear of my symptoms worsening.
In 2009, I realized how much I hated living this way and I knew something had to change. I didn’t have to be a sick person and I could still be the person I was prior to my diagnosis. I was still the woman who had dreams for myself and for my children. I could still feel this woman longing to reconnect to her former self.
In the nearly six years since being diagnosed, my life has changed too. My marriage fell apart because it didn’t survive chronic illness and a whole lot of other things. I lost my brother to cancer and I almost lost my mother to an awful stroke. It has been three years since my brother’s death and my mother has, for the most part, recovered from her stroke. And despite depression and with a lot of hard work and soul searching, I managed to come back on top.
Living with chronic illness, so many of us have a tendency to dwell on the past that we miss out on the blessings of the future. For a long time, that is what I did. But one day, I realized I could change the one thing I had control of. I reminded myself that life still had meaning despite chronic illness.
Writing this blog became my outlet for my feelings and frustrations about rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. The more I wrote about how being sick affected my life, the easier it was to let go. Doing so meant I was no longer looking back at and dwelling on the past. Moreover, I changed my attitude about what was possible and what wasn’t.
Changing my attitude about my illnesses allowed me to focus on feeling better. I changed my diet, made sure I took my meds, and did my best to be active. Further, I connected with others living with similar struggles and realized I didn’t have to fight this alone. I also became a leader in when it came to educating and reaching out to others living with arthritis and fibromyalgia.
I am so blessed with supportive friends and loved ones that I have gained over the past few years. I am feeling better even though I am not in remission and I likely will never be but my symptoms are managed and last days or hours rather than weeks at a time. I am lucky, hopeful, and happy and where I need to be. I am no longer looking back and I am moving forward right into 2014.
I wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year with your loved ones. I hope that 2014 brings you so many reasons to be blessed. I hope you continue looking forward and that you never have to look back.