One of things that always stands out when I read other blogs and even my own posts is this idea of trying to be normal as we struggle with chronic illnesses. After the past few years since my diagnosis, so much has changed in my life, my career, my health, my personal relationships and even the loss of my brother. Some of those changes were due to RA and fibro and others due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Some of the changes came after I made the choice that even though I had to live with RA and Fibromyalgia, I didn’t have to let them take everything from me. I changed careers and dreams, I let go of people in my life who made a choice not to be there for me, I learned a lot about myself, and I found myself taking on opportunities that I never imagined taking. I evolved after I was diagnosed and in a way, I found my new normal.
People with chronic illness often use the words “somewhat normal” or “semi normal,” but I never have. Living with RA and fibro has given me a new kind of normal. Like all of you, I know the battle scars that chronic illness leaves on your heart and your soul. The way you look at life changes and if you are not careful, you will lose track of all the things in your life that are wonderful and good despite chronic illness.
Chronic illness becomes this imaginary wall between you and the people in your life that don’t understand. But the thing is, there are people who actually take the time to care and the effort to understand because of their love for you. On the other hand, relationships, marriages and friendships might end because of chronic illness and in my experience; I have learned that those things are okay because they teach you who and what is most important in your life. Other things such as regret because you can no longer do things you once enjoyed and anger because you have to adjust to a new lifestyle are all things that are a part of living with chronic illness. Anger, regret and depression, if you allow them, will eat at psyche. If you let this happen, you will isolate yourself from the people that love you.
So how does one keep up the fight and persevere? You do that by creating a new kind of normal. That normal means that you decide to control what you can and focus less on what you cannot. Your new normal also means that you take responsibility to not shut people that love you out and to not discriminate if they do not understand your pain. Your new normal accepts that while there is a stigma associated with chronic illness, you can still take a firm stand and acknowledge that you are not crazy, or a hypochondriac or simply seeking attention. In doing so, you do not let the ignorance of others affect how you live your life and work towards your dreams.
Four years now since my diagnoses, my normal is anything but normal and I am okay with that. I don’t take crap from anyone, I continue to live my life despite these diseases, and I stick to my normal. My normal allows me to wake up every morning knowing that today will be good if I make a choice to allow it to be. I am not depressed or angry. I don’t have regrets over things out of my control and I focus on the ones that I can. I am content with my normal and I think that it is so important for each person to find theirs and to be content with that.