7 Wishes for Myself in 2017 as a Person With Chronic Illness

There was a certain relief for me as 2016 drew to an end after struggling with chronic illness all year. Like the closing of the curtains on a play, where the stage lights dim and house lights come on. The actors celebrate their performances, and there’s a feeling of relief and happiness that everything went without a hitch.

Sound vaguely familiar?

For some of us, 2016 may have felt like an outstanding performance or perhaps more of an attempt at a performance — with an audience we know full well, stacked full of our greatest supporters and critics. We bravely put on an act, because the alternative was pretty scary; there isn’t a script! Life doesn’t come with a script — it’s all a bit impromptu really.

To make sure 2017 isn’t a repeat “performance,” I want to find the inspiration and motivation to go impromptu — bringing about changes that give me the confidence to be more in control. In my experience, traditional New Year’s resolutions don’t stand the test of time, especially when I’m also battling a chronic illness like ME/CFS.

With respectful reflection for 2016, I wish to acknowledge what I did in 2016:

I stopped and farewelled the unwanted and unhelpful.

I stopped associating with those who drained me of what little energy I had.

I stopped feeling guilty and made peace with my pain.

I stopped living behind what others identify as someone with a chronic illness.

I stopped feeling ashamed that I could smile while in pain.

I stopped grieving for that which I had lost — my independence, my career, my friends…

I stopped looking for answers — the people, places or events to blame for my illness.

I stopped trying to be superwoman and accommodating everyone and everything in my day.

I started nurturing my body, focusing on fueling it with energy, love and rest — all the while allowing myself the space to be me. In stopping, the pain subsided, the dark clouds lifted and I started seeing what was holding me back: self-love.

I have more energy, and it’s with this energy that I’m inspired by to move forward into 2017 with even more self-love.

Here’s what I wish for in 2017:

1. I wish to release the stress in my life (AKA the unwanted and unhelpful).

2. I will look more deeply, be more mindful and explore my thoughts further.

3. I will be more present, so I can better learn and understand where my doubts, fears, guilt and limits come from so I can develop ways to move forward with that which is difficult and annoying to deal with.

4. I will become my own best advocate and learn to speak about my chronic illness openly and clearly, reminding myself that others aren’t able to read my mind when I am in pain, and what they hear isn’t always what I’m saying.

5. I will focus on what I can do, plan it well and concentrate on how I can do it, allowing myself the space to progress forward steadily, without overcommitting and overexerting myself.

6. I will continue to choose to spend time with those who matter and remain committed to those relationships that fill me up and reward me with good feelings, fun times and memories that inspire and warm the heart.

7. I will allow myself to celebrate minor achievements, and often!

You see, in 2017 I deserve to live my life, albeit a life within the limits of this illness, with its timely pain reminders and the random need for rest and sleep. I am so much more than my illness. This is my body and who I am — regardless.

It is still a life and a life worth living — every minute of it. My very own impromptu performance filled with happiness, contentment and endless hope for the future.

If this impromptu performance leaves you inspired, then I dare you to laugh and laugh out loud — don’t hide behind the facade that “if I’m seen to be happy, I must be well, so I must be sad and miserable.”

Please try not to compare your illness against those who have no illness — there simply is no comparison, just a life full of personal rewards for all, which leave all of our audiences inspired and motivated to perhaps do the same.

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