Chronic illness throws you into no-mans-land and you find yourself wondering who you are and who you are becoming. You get to a point where you wonder who you really are because the society you live in defines you based on what you have done and what you can accomplish. Further, modern society defines you by your job, your wealth and prosperity.
When it comes to family and friends, chronic illness makes you wonder whether you really matter to them and whether you are still worthy despite your inability to be the person you used to be. Often, chronic illness takes away our accomplishments or our ability to feel accomplished. Some of us have to quit jobs or cut hours and even hobbies and recreational activities can become limited or impossible. Slowly we lose parts of our lives as our illnesses chip those away.
Then, there is great old depression around the corner just waiting for us to feel bogged down by our conditions. And depression forces a person to feel worthless and not be able to see any logic as to why they are depressed in the first place. I was once told that the best way to ease your way out of feeling depressed over your condition is to imagine a loved one in the same predicament. Then, ask yourself how important this person is to you and how important it is for you to see this person not feeling saddened and overburdened by their condition. You would not want to see your loved one feeling worthless and you love that person regardless of chronic illness. I have often use that scenario to remind myself that I need to love myself in the way that I would love anyone else going through the same thing.
Granted, things change and the only way to escape the depression and dwelling is find new activities and hobbies to replace the ones who have lost. Further, you can adjust and schedule your prior activities around your conditions. There is always a way not to let chronic illness win and even when chronic illness forces you to stay home and rest, watch a movie (a comedy would be helpful) or visit the world wide web. There are many online support groups out there where you can connect with others dealing with the same concerns you have. It always helps to know that we are not alone and that we can learn cope despite and with chronic illness in our lives.
Learning to adjust to a life with chronic illness is a slow process but we eventually get there. The only to truly adjust and enjoy life is to appreciate who you are and who you have become. Forget the past, live in the present, and keep believing in the future.
Chronic illness has taught me so much including,
1. That I am stronger than I give myself credit and that I should focus less on my weaknesses and more on my strengths.
2. That prayer can give you hope even when you believe that hope has run out on you.
3. That it is okay to ask for help.
4. That it is okay not to be the best at everything. Competition is so overrated.
5. That there is still a life out there for you and chronic illness shouldn’t stop you from enjoying it.
6. That we should stop and smell the roses often because reminders are good.
7. The importance of being your own advocate. Find doctors that will listen, educate yourself about your condition or conditions, and speak up for yourself.
8. That it is okay to be weak, as long as you do not let it consume you.
9. To let go of the past and look towards the future.
10. That change is inevitable and not always in our control.
What things have you learned as result of chronic illness in your life?