Even With Chronic Illnesses, I am Happy

I live with chronic illness, which is a fact that I make no efforts to hide. I don’t hide it because it’s part of who I am. The person I am today has, in so many ways, been shaped by the trials that have beset me due to my health.

Something I am sure baffles others about the way I chose my life is how I can be happy and optimistic, how I can even get out of bed in the morning with the weight of my health challenges. The truth is, being sick has opened my eyes to how precious life is and I don’t want to vote against this precious gift that is mine, of life, by giving up the fight.

I was born with a genetic disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, that has now caused gastroparesis, a condition that means paralyzed stomach. As you can probably guess, from the sound of it, paralyzed stomach means it’s hard to eat. It wasn’t really sudden, but gradually over time. I have come to this point where there are literally less than a dozen things that I can eat and even then, only one of these things is safe 100 percent of the time: Potatoes. Got to love Potatoes!

I was recently diagnosed with a patent foramen ovale (PFO), which is a hole in the heart between the left and right atria, along with three leaking valves. It’s also suspected that I have dysautonomia which can also mess with the rhythm of the heart, so it’s just a fun party!

I live with mental illness, so I get depressed and anxious in general, but it is also triggered by illness. And, this is just a small portion of my troubles. So, why am I so happy?

I’m happy because I have things to be grateful for. I’m happy because I am most richly blessed. Yes, I am blessed. I have friends and family members who love me.

I have an adorable min pin and an adorable guinea pig.

I’m happy because I’m alive. I’m happy because I refuse to think too far into the future. This is a coping mechanism because if I think about how long I’m going to be alive, I might break down and just give up living.

I’m happy because I can walk, get out of bed, and I can still eat a tiny amount of food.

Yes, I have a lot I could complain about but I don’t really want to hear myself complaining all the time. So, I’m happy because as hard as life is, I know it could be worse. I know that everything I have could be taken from me. I could lose friends and family, and my health could get worse. However, I have been through worse, I have survived worse, I have fought and won so many battles that left scars but did not kill me or beat me.

I know others will try to drag me down, but I’m happy because of my therapy. I’m happy because I learned therapeutic ways to cope.

Someone or something is bothering me? I’ll just put my troubles in a boat and watch them float away on water. A powerful coping mechanism.

I’m happy because I know that my depression and anxiety, let alone every other thing that attacks my body, will not break me. I’m a fighter with a lot of tools under her belt. I’m a fighter with a large mental health first aid kit.

I’m a fighter who is not afraid of fighting and that is why I am happy. I have a million and one reasons why I should be happy. I have maybe 20 reasons I should be sad. Sadness be gone. Sunshine, love, laughter, and happiness are here to stay. Oh, happy day!

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