When Life Throws You Curveballs and You Have a Chronic Illness

Most people with a long-term illness know what it’s like to be running on empty, roughly as well as they know what it’s like to breathe. But when you’re already dragging yourself through life, struggling to keep up with the day-to-day, how do you then adjust when life throws you a curveball? Well, with difficulty, I discovered…When my boyfriend and I broke up last week.

Breakups are often messy. Even if the relationship ends amicably (as mine did), there’s still a lot to deal with at once. As well as the emotional impact, there’s the practical changes that have to be addressed. My ex and I had been living together for over two years, and as my part-time call centre wage wasn’t enough for me to live on my own, I’m back to living with mum and dad. With my parents living an hour and a half away from that part-time call centre job, I can wave that goodbye too. Overnight, I’ve reached a position where I need to move house, job-hunt, and deal with the emotional toll.

All of these things are just parts of life – the ups and downs that make up the journey. But didn’t life get the memo? I don’t have the energy to deal with it. Whatever your curveball may be, I assume the outcome is fairly similar – an increase in symptoms that kick you while you’re already down.

Girl taking selfie.

So what can you do when life has the audacity to keep moving forward, oblivious of your condition? You fight. To whatever extent your body allows.

The first piece of advice everyone offers to deal with heartache, is to keep yourself busy. That’s what I did for about two days, until my body couldn’t keep up any longer. Keeping busy isn’t practical advice for someone with a limited amount of energy, so I’ve changed this to “keep your mind occupied.” I may not be able to fill my time traveling, or hanging out with friends, or indulging in work, but I can play music round the clock so that my mind is occupied by listening to and singing a song – and importantly, I can do it from the comfort of bed.

You also need to get back out there, which I know is another piece of advice that is made difficult to follow when your health is complicated. This, again, can be adapted though. I think the point of getting “back out there,” is to remind yourself that you are gorgeous and that you can enjoy other people’s company. So, instead, just do something that makes you feel gorgeous in someone else’s company! My version of this was to get my hair and done, for example, before I went back to bed.

Let this be a firm reminder to those dragging themselves through dark moments that hope is not lost. I am healthier now than I have been for years.

Believe me, I know, our limitations change for better or worse and it is not easy to adapt to them. However, times like this show us what we’re made of, and those of us who are chronically ill are made of pretty tough stuff. Find your limitation, and do whatever you can within it to push on through. Slowly, gradually, daily, we can piece ourselves back together, in spite of the illnesses that will never define us.

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