My 3 Steps to 'Reclaiming' Life After a Chronic Illness Diagnosis


Life has a way of throwing us curve balls when we least expect them. Chronic illness and disease is at the top of the list of many of our biggest fears. For those of us who receive the unexpected diagnosis of having a chronic illness, it can be absolutely devastating. It changes the structure of the lives we have created and affects our relationships, careers, finances, and our overall mental well-being.

Having a chronic illness can feel hopeless. There are several ways it can destroy your will to continue living life as you have known it. Not only the physical pain it creates, but the mental struggle you begin to endure when trying to face this new reality. Here are my three steps to “reclaiming” your life with chronic illness:

1. Love Yourself — Sounds so simple, right? It can be challenging to do when you have a chronic illness. It’s an important aspect of healing and if your illness does not have a cure, I think it’s the most important part of living with your disease. I recommend making positive choices to combat your illness by creating a wellness program for yourself. For example, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, stepping out into the fresh air when you can, and thinking as many positive thoughts as you can. Create a series of affirmations to say in the mirror and use them even on your worst days. An example of one is, “I am happy, healthy, wealthy, free, and fearless.” It may not be a cure, but when you apply the step of giving yourself the love you deserve with a little self-care, it can go a long way.

2. Embrace the Experience — I believe life gives us only what it knows we can handle and you have been given this experience as part of your own personal growth. You are stronger than you may believe you are. Chronic illness is not an easy battle to face, but I think the more you fight against it, the worse it becomes. When you are in conflict with what you are experiencing, that is often when you suffer more than you have to. Challenge yourself to embrace the experience. Read books, educate yourself, find a support group, seek therapy. Make positive actions to living the best life you can.

3. Advocate for your Disease — What better way to help yourself than to help others simultaneously. By advocating you may gain a sense of purpose and make a difference. Advocacy also helps to remind you that you are not alone. There are several ways to be an advocate. If you have to stay in bed you can even advocate from the comfort of your own home. Bring awareness to your disease by utilizing technology, social media, leveraging your experience by sharing with family, friends, and your community, or even create a foundation.

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Thinkstock photo by GoIdeal

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