Why I'll Choose Hope Again in the New Year as a Person With a Chronic Illness

Another year is drawing to a close. For me, like many others, this year has had its fair share of disappointments.

I thought 2016 would be the year I got my life back on track. It was a year where I took difficult decisions to try and get my chronic illness under control. I reluctantly reduced my hours at work and started a new treatment. I was expecting to see an improvement by Christmas. If I’m honest, I was already making plans for what I might do in the New Year with my new-found energy.

But the reality is the improvement thus far has been so fractional I’ve barely noticed it. I’m faced with the disappointment of another year with the uncertainty of an illness that I still struggle to understand and manage. All the hope and aspirations I went into 2016 with feel naive and foolish now.

Disappointment can be crushing. It leaves behind its own scars on our hearts. Scars that make us reluctant to hope again, unwilling to open our vulnerable hearts to the possibility of further pain. Our instinct is to harden our hearts, to build walls around those vulnerable parts of ourselves and lower our expectations.

If we don’t hope for better things, then we can’t be disappointed again. If we expect only more trials and difficulties, then we won’t be let down. It feels safer not to choose hope.

At this dawn of another year, it would be all too easy to cross it off already. To abandon all my dreams and hopes here, accepting they have no place in this new life.

But I can’t live this life without hope.

The kind of hope I need isn’t ignorant of the hard realities of chronic illness. I know that no amount of hope will make this new year trouble-free. There will be hard days ahead, days that will take more than hope to get through.

But I have to keep trusting that even on the difficult days there can be golden moments that make the struggle worth it. I have to keep remembering that I am and always will be more than an illness. I have to believe that some of my dreams for the future can still be fulfilled.

Hope reminds me that while the past is now set in stone, the future hasn’t been written yet. I cannot control what comes to pass. But I can choose the way I approach it.

I will choose hope again in the new year. Maybe I will be disappointed again, but I think it will be worth the risk.

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