4 Ways My Life Has Changed Since I Was Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness

About a year ago, I went from being a highly active 26-year-old to being completely bedridden, nearly overnight. I went from running half marathons to sleeping for what feels like marathons. I went from a successful career to getting let go for being unable to get out of bed to go to work.

Here’s a complete picture of how my life has changed since being diagnosed with a chronic illness:

I used to love mornings.

Now, mornings are the hardest part of the day, from being in the most extreme pain I face all day, to willing myself to go back to sleep, to looking longingly out the window at the beautiful weather and wishing I could experience the activity I used to enjoy. Mornings are the time when I’m faced with truly how limiting chronic illness can be.

I used to be defined by my career.

Now, I focus on working for myself because I’m unable to manage the demanding schedule of working for others. There is a huge blessing here, and I try to focus on this positive aspect that has come from my illness. I get to set my own schedule, do what I’m best at, punt work when I’m unable to, and get the rest I need to function, whatever functioning means for me that day. Some days, functioning is getting out to Starbucks and working outside. Other days, functioning can be something as small as being able to walk my own dog.

I used to have an active and social life.

Now, I keep my circle close and filled with those who understand my condition. My friends and family are so understanding, but I’m known for missing birthdays, ditching nighttime plans, and spending entire days in my pajamas. If and when I’m able to exercise, I’ve switched from intense workouts and long runs to calming yoga and brief walks. Doing anything that angers my illness can cost me days or weeks of pain, fatigue, fevers, and nausea.

I used to feel “normal.”

Now, I feel like I’m anything but. Some days, I feel like a 27-year-old trapped in an 80-year-old shell. I feel disappointed in myself and betrayed by my body. Other times, I embrace this “new normal” by rewarding myself for small accomplishments. I understand that though I’m limited, I’m still loved, successful in my own way, and have a bright future ahead of me. Though my illness has changed my life drastically, it has also opened new doors, taught me the value of self-love, and allowed me to help others through sharing the challenges I face. 

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

Related to Chronic Illness

What Dressing Up for Halloween Requires When You Have a Chronic Illness

Before I Was Sick I always loved the idea of Halloween. Homemade costumes were a must. At first, our mother made our costumes, but the gauntlet was passed early on, and we sewed our own. I remember making a fairy costume for myself and the wings kept falling off. Well, you would have thought the [...]
arm with iv needle in it

Why Taking Photos of Myself Helps Me Cope With My Illness

When’s the last time you took a selfie? Taking photos of ourselves is reflexive. We photograph medical procedures and fun moments with friends alike; we slap pictures on every account from Uber to Snapchat. However, this is something I struggled with when I became seriously ill. Oddly enough, my family took the first photo ever [...]
Hand drawn women with an earring made of silver and ruby

The Assumptions People Make About My Illness Because I Focus on the Positives

My family brought me up on values that taught me to always find the silver inning. So naturally, when I tell people about my condition I choose not to focus on the 28 surgeries or the catheters I have to carry around in my bag. I pull the silver lining out of the situation and [...]
Beautiful abstract dramatic girl with long red hair vector

When My Chronic Illnesses Make Me Feel Like It's Always My Fault

I began getting sick when I was only 11. I was thrown into a world I didn’t understand, a world that was completely opposite from my hustle-and-bustle life of being a healthy competitive dancer. The way I identified myself was by the people I was around: I am a daughter, a sister, a dancer, a [...]