5 Silver Linings That Get Me Through the Day With Chronic Illness

Anyone with a chronic illness knows you can either laugh about it or cry, and I hate crying.

I’m an ugly cryer — my face gets red and snot gets everywhere. So I choose to laugh, mostly because it makes less of a mess and I’m less likely to be horrified if I look in a mirror afterwards. Silver linings are necessary, and everyone should have a handful of “go-to” silver linings in their arsenal to use. Here’s a few of mine:

1. It could be worse. 

That seems to be the golden rule of chronic illness — and I think it’s true. It really could always be worse. For example, I could still be having drug-induced lactation. It’s like in the movies, where they always say, “It could be worse, it could be raining.” Lactation is my metaphorical raining. Although based on the amount I was lactating, it was somewhat literal raining as well. 

2. I can still have ___.

For me, it’s coffee and ice cream. I have gastroparesis and can’t eat most solid foods. It sucks when someone brings cake in to work or when they make tacos at a family event. But I can still have coffee and ice cream — and I do, in copious amounts. 

3. I’m up, showered and have real pants on. Oh, and I haven’t punched anyone in the face.

This is by no means always true. Particularly the part about having real pants on. I can rock yoga pants with the best of them. However, there are definitely days when I question my ability to function as a human being, and knowing I have real pants on reminds me that I’m doing all right. On days when I don’t have real pants on, I remind myself that I haven’t punched anyone. If I don’t have enough energy to get out bed, I don’t have enough energy to punch anyone. So it’s a win for me either way — pants on or a lack of punching. 

4. I only tripped and fell once (or only did some other embarrassing thing less than usual).

I know better than to expect myself to be embarrassment-free for a whole day. I lower the bar, and aim to only let it happen once. Am I always successful? Definitely not. 

5. I will make a great stereotypical elderly person someday. 

My name is Alice, I have arthritis, and I basket weave. On paper, some might think I’m 85 years old. It’s comforting knowing that, while I don’t fit in with my generation now, I think I will when I’m a senior citizen. I’m just practicing for it full time. 

All these boil down to the same thing: Perspective, y’all. 

Follow this journey on Funny Bones.

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