10 Things I've Learned Not to Do as Someone With Chronic Illness and Pain

My own battle with depression and suicidal thoughts inspired me to write this piece. It’s not easy to live a life filled with daily pain and solitude. It starts to make you question not only your sanity but also your purpose. I felt that I had no purpose or was of no use to anyone. A lot of times I would get so down on myself that I would stop taking care of my health needs. I hope that by sharing just some of the things that got me through this darkness, it would help maybe just one person going through something similar. You’re never alone in your struggling, even if you’re alone.

1. Never let anyone tell you that your problems aren’t real or that they’re all in your head. This happens to us often. Family members and friends are guilty of it. Even doctors that cannot reach the correct diagnosis will do this to us because we scare them. It proves that they are human, too.

2. Never stop advocating for yourself. When you give up, it’s over. Everything around you falls apart and the pain is that much worse.

3. Never take your caregiver for granted. This is the person in your life who is there for you every day. The person that has seen you at your best and your very worst. They will do anything for you so you should do anything within your power for them.

4. Stop blaming yourself for your shortcomings. Your illness may make it hard or even impossible to do certain things that you once were able to do, but placing blame or shame on yourself because of it only causes depression. Know your worth and live each day to the best of your ability.

5. Stop pushing people away. You may find yourself isolated and lonely and start to think you don’t deserve love, romance, friendship etc. None of that is true. You deserve all that life has to offer. You are still a vibrant and beautiful person with much to give.

6. Never give up on dreams of the future just because your diagnosis is scary. You start to think you will never get to do this, or go there, or see that. Stop this kind of destructive thinking. It will only make you feel like the disease has already won. You’re still here and you’re still fighting as long as you have breath.

7. Never ever keep thoughts and feelings of suicide to yourself. If you feel or think about hurting yourself, report those feelings immediately. There is no shame in having depression with chronic illness and pain. The two are often seen together.

8. Stop trying to do everything. Learn how to say no. Choose what you can do and do it and let the rest go. When we push ourselves too hard we pay for it dearly later.

9. Never lose sight of who you are. Your illness is a part of you but it doesn’t define you.

10. Never be afraid to speak your mind. If you do not agree with what your doctor is recommending or prescribing, respectfully speak up. You know your body and illness better than anyone and you have the right to be a partner in your own health care.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

Girl holding cup of hot tea and reading in bad. Around her in bed book, smart phone. Decorative lights in background.

8 Little Tricks That Help Me Cope With My Illness

When you have a chronic illness, you develop special ways of coping. Little tricks that we may not have used when we were “normal,” but that make all the difference in the world now. I used to consider it a strength that I never kept a calendar or a planner of any kind, and yet [...]

The Phone Call You (Shouldn't Have to) Dread When You're Chronically Ill

She sighs when I call in. She does it every time, but today it pings an extra note of discordance inside my head. As if there’s room for that, too, inside the whirling, swirling mess, ebbing and flowing in the space between my ears. If I’m honest (and I try to be), she does that [...]
Closeup portrait young woman in glasses covering face eyes using her both hands isolated on gray wall background

15 Cringeworthy Pieces of Advice People With Chronic Illness Have Received

I recently asked our chronic illness community on Twitter: Share the most annoying advice you’ve received re: your #chronicillness #spoonie pic.twitter.com/q7MYNUyNrM — Moms with Pain (@momswithpain) August 1, 2016 As you can imagine, my followers have been on the receiving end of some pretty terrible advice. Some of the responses are downright infuriating, especially the ones [...]
The author in a hospital bed with her mom and dad beside her

5 Things Every Parent to a Child With a Chronic Illness Should Hear

Being a kid with a chronic illness, things in our day-to-day fight go unnoticed. One thing that should never be ignored is everything our parents go through with us. Here are five things I believe every parent of a child with a chronic illness should hear. 1. You don’t always have to be the strong one. [...]