The Silver Linings of Being Chronically Ill
Reading this, you might be thinking, how on earth this post is going to go. Chronic illness is debilitating, draining, and downright exhausting for people who have it. It takes a toll on every aspect of our lives; it affects us mentally, physically, professionally, recreationally, spiritually, etc. It makes certain daily tasks a struggle to complete. Sometimes, we need to muster up the strength to simply push or pull open a door.
Now, if you don’t have a chronic illness, think about going through this every day. Feeling so tired that it is hard to get out of bed, needing to sleep during the day even though you have already gotten a good eight to 10 hours of sleep at night, not being able to stand for long periods of time, taking medication four or more times a day. It doesn’t sound like a way that anyone would choose to live. However, and this is a big however, just like anything else, there is good that can come from living with a chronic illness.
Whatever you struggle with – we all have our own battles and we all suffer with something. But if you look hard enough, there is beauty that can be found within suffering. Some things just don’t seem fair, I get that. There are horrible things that happen to people in this world. Things that I cannot even fathom. But ultimately, I believe that everything happens for a reason. We might not know what that reason is or be able to see it while we are in the thick of it, but I believe we can pull something from our hardships; a lesson, a silver lining, something. The same with chronic illness. I know some people who are so sick they can’t leave their house or get out of bed. But, if we look for our silver linings, I think it will help us through our suffering and allow us to accept our circumstances, our conditions, and have a grateful heart for our blessings and all that we do have.
So, here are some silver linings that I have pulled together from my own experience living with chronic illness, and I want to share them. Hopefully these will speak to you and will be relatable to your own life. My hope is that you can take some of these positives with you to help you through your hard days.
1. We appreciate the little things. With feeling so crummy all of the time, I appreciate and am so happy and grateful for the moments when I feel OK, for the days where symptoms aren’t flaring as much. I appreciate when I am finally feeling well enough to take some classes at school, or have a part-time job – or heck, even a full-time job! I appreciate the days when I feel well enough to go outside and get some fresh air, or to go for a short walk. I appreciate when I feel up to spending time with family or friends. It’s the little things that really count anyways, right?
2. We know and understand that patience is a virtue. Patience. Something that I have learned to have over the course of the last couple years. Sometimes, it seems like all we do is wait. We wait in the waiting room for our doctors appointments. We wait to get in to see a doctor. We wait for a diagnosis. We wait in the ER. We wait to do certain activities until we feel well enough. We wait for our treatments to work. We wait. But this is good practice for life, because patience is something that we all need a little bit of to get through life. We need patience with ourselves, and patience with others, and if you have a chronic illness, you may come to realize that patience truly is a virtue.
3. We can advocate for ourselves. If you are someone who has had a chronic illness for years, I bet you really understand this! A lot like patience, we often learn the importance of advocating for ourselves. Some doctors dismiss us, some don’t care, some don’t believe what we are telling them. So what do we do? We speak up. We are pushy. We are matter of fact. We might say at the end of the day, that we need to look for a different doctor, one that will give us the time and respect that we deserve. We ask for what we need, and we take charge of our own health. Advocating for oneself is such an important skill to achieve during this life, and as people with chronic illness, we may learn this skill quite quickly.
4. We can have empathy and understanding for others. As a chronic illness warrior, you know suffering. You know pain. You know what it is like to feel sick all of the time. This makes you that much more empathetic to others who are suffering, with chronic illness or not! When others are suffering from chronic illness or similar symptoms, you want to help. You want to be there and let them know that they are not alone. When others are suffering with whatever else, you still are understanding, because you know what it is like to hurt.
5. We are not alone. It may feel like we are alone in our suffering, but the truth is, there are many of us out there. If you do not already have a support group in place or a place to go to connect with others, I highly suggest looking into it. For me, Instagram has been a wonderful place that I can turn to for support, advice, and just making friends who get it and get what it’s like to live with multiple, life altering illnesses. There are also Facebook groups, and there are blogs that you can follow. The Mighty and Bloglovin are great sites to find chronic illness stories and blogs. Dive in and do not be afraid to join a chronic illness community.
** We also become good online shoppers (Amazon is my favorite!) and we have time to read, watch our favorite television shows, and for the most part we realize the importance of self-care!
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Thinkstock photo by eldinhoid