Woman laying on waiting room seats in the hospital.

Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield Will Charge Members for Non-Emergency-Related Trips to the ER


If you are someone who lives with a chronic illness or disability, it’s likely you’ve visited the emergency room for issues relating to your condition. Trips to the ER are usually designated for the worst flares or ones that occur in the middle of the night when your doctor is unavailable — but what constitutes an emergency and whose job is it to decide?

If you have Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield and live in Georgia, Missouri or Kentucky, a new insurance policy might affect your decision to visit the ER. According to NBC News, starting July 1, Anthem members will be responsible for the cost of their ER visit if the trip was not an emergency.

“Save the ER for emergencies — or cover the cost,” a letter sent to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia members, obtained by NBC News, states. “[S]tarting July 1, 2017, you’ll be responsible for ER costs when it’s NOT an emergency. That way, we can all help make sure the ER’s available for people who really are having emergencies.”

In its letter, Anthem defines an emergency as:

A medical or behavioral health condition of recent onset and sufficient severity, including but not limited to, severe pain, that would lead a prudent layperson, possessing an average knowledge of medicine and health, to believe that his or her condition, sickness, or injury is of such a nature that not getting immediate medical care could result in: (a) placing the patient’s health or the health of another person in serious danger or, for a pregnant woman, placing the woman’s health or the health of her unborn child in serious danger; (b) serious impairment to bodily functions; or (c) serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part. Such conditions include but are not limited to, chest pain, stroke, poisoning, serious breathing problems, unconsciousness, severe burns or cuts, uncontrolled bleeding, or seizures and such other acute conditions as may be determined to be Emergencies by us.

A spokesperson for Anthem told NBC News its policy is designed to prevent people from abusing emergency rooms: “What we are really trying to do is make sure that people are seeing their doctors first.” However, according to its letter, whether or not your visit was an emergency is ultimately up to the insurance company to decide. If they feel it’s not an emergency, you may be stuck with the bill.

A spokesperson for Anthem in Georgia told the Los Angeles Times the policy does not affect children under the age of 14, visits made on a Sunday or holiday, and people who lack a nearby urgent care center (within 15 miles). “Symptoms of potentially more serious conditions, such as chest pains, could be seen at the ER even if they turn out to be indigestion,” Anthem’s representative said. Rather than have people visit the ER, Georgia’s Anthem coverage is hoping to reroute patients using telemedicine and urgent care centers.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) says Anthem’s new policy is not only bad for medicine, it’s illegal. “[M]aking subscribers pay for any emergency department visit that turns out not to be an emergency, violates the ‘prudent layperson’ standard, which is codified in federal law, including the Affordable Care Act. It’s also law in more than 30 states,” the group wrote in a statement.

Forcing people to triage and diagnose themselves defeats the purpose of emergency care. “If patients think they have the symptoms of a medical emergency, they should seek emergency care immediately,” said Rebecca Parker, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP.  “The vast majority of emergency patients seek care appropriately, according to the CDC. Patients cannot be expected to self-diagnose their medical conditions, which is why the prudent layperson standard must continue to be included in any replacement legislation of the Affordable Care Act.”

Thinkstock image via ImageegamI.

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woman surrounded by light and flowers

A Poem for Chronic Illness Warriors


I hear your cries. I know your pain. I feel the rhythm of your fear at night, when you pray you’ll wake again.

It’s gone too far. For far too long. But you have never given up because inside you are so strong.

On the outside, falling down, falling apart. It’s about time, when the tears fall in the dark.

Don’t give up. Look how far you’ve come. All those times when you thought you’d come undone.

You are a warrior. You are a queen, you are a king. You are the hero, for all who’s felt the same.

Stand up and shout it out, be proud, I’ll never doubt, you now, let’s figure out a way.

My hand is here my heart has found, your strength appears, your love abounds

Because

You are a warrior. You are queen, you are a king. Going forward. You can make it through this thing.

I believe in you, you made it through today.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Uladzimir Bakunovich.

Illustration of a woman chewing gum in a yellow sweater that says "highly sensitive," photo of a woman in a bathing suit reading a book, the woman has an ostomy bag, and photo of a man in his underwear taking a selfie.

10 Body Positive Instagram Accounts to Follow this Summer


As summer approaches, you may find it difficult to own your confidence in your body. If you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, you are not alone. Everyone deserves to feel empowered. Body positivity belongs not to one group of people but to everyone, it is an all-encompassing movement to conquer life with confidence.

Finding confidence doesn’t happen overnight — and despite reports that Instagram can be harmful to your mental health — following the right accounts and using strategies mindful of your mental health can make your feed a source of positivity. Here are 10 Instagram accounts to follow for body positive inspiration.

1. Loey Lane

Every year on my birthday my dad would call to play me a song on his trumpet. This is the first year I woke up and didn’t hear him saying “Happy birthday punkin!” Every year on my birthday I like to get myself something small as an act of self love. A manicure, a new phone case, a comfy pair of PJs. This year, all I wanted was that phone call. Instead, I had my closest friends by my side as I picked out this cutie from @buildabear, he’s a Star Trek (my dad’s favorite show) bear and he’s wearing a Minnesota Vikings (his favorite team) hoodie. He also plays the Star Trek theme, which I would pitter patter downstairs in the middle of the night to when I had a nightmare and just wanted to be near my dad. I am happy that in so many ways I can keep my dad with me and remember those things I love so much about him. I love you forever and always Daddy. Love, your Lolu ❤️

A post shared by Loey Lane (@loeybug) on

Loey Lane is a body-positive YouTuber who maintains a strong presence on other social media platforms, especially Instagram. She openly discusses her own mental health, including her experience of grief after losing her father. Lane consistently encourages others to love themselves.

Follow Loey Lane.

2. Nourish and Eat

A few years ago, I never would have tried on these dresses. I would have seen them on the rack and loved them from afar, but never brought them into the dressing room with me. ❌ Bright patterns scared me. They drew attention. Made people look. And that was the last thing I wanted. ???? For those of you who followed along with me on my stories (which is why this photo only has the captions on it, whooops), I went out of my comfort zone shopping for a dress for an upcoming event. A FANCY event. Where people would not only be looking at me, but I’d also be making connections and TALKING to people. (Hello anxiety, my old friend.) And when I saw these dresses, with their gorgeous bright and attention-grabbing patterns, my first thought was “beautiful, but not for me.” BUT TO HELL WITH THAT. Why shouldn’t I try something on? Why can’t I wear something I love? ✨ Our bodies are made out of stardust. They’re actual, literal miracles. The fact that we’re here, right now, trying our best and just EXISTING is a beautiful thing. The world is so much greater than worrying about the shape of our arms in a sleeveless dress, or the number on the tag, or what other people think of us when we walk in a room. ✨✨✨ YOU ARE MAGIC no matter what you put on your body. Regardless of if the clothes fit or don’t fit. Plain or brightly colored. Covered or exposed. You are a miracle of the universe. ???? (PS – the dress I ended up choosing? is BRIGHT RED. No hiding this time for me. ????????) #youaremagic #dressingroomwarrior #wearwhatyouwant

A post shared by G I N A ✨S U S A N N A (@nourishandeat) on

Gina Susanna uses her account to promote body positivity and recovery from eating disorders. Susanna has been featured in Teen Vogue for dealing with weight gain and encourages her Instagram followers to “embrace the squish.” Susanna is often featured, as well as friends and uplifting text images.

Follow Nourish and Eat

3. Positivity Poppa

**MINDSET*** ~ So here’s a little before and after photo of me. There’s probably only about 2-3 years difference. ~ On the left, I’d just finished a circuit from Insanity. I took the photo in the most flattering way possible – best lighting, I was drenched in sweat so I felt it accentuated my muscles etc. It was perhaps the time I was closest to having an ‘aesthetic body’. I felt like having a ripped body would make me happiest and that I’d keep doing insanity until I looked ‘perfect’. ~ HOW SILLY OF ME! 😛 ~ On the right is a picture of me now, taken this morning. I’ve got a bit more of a gut, I’m not trying to focus on lighting (only to make the picture more visible, not to make me look ‘better’) and I’m not posing in any way…but I’m happier in myself! Why? Because I know that my body fat and definition don’t affect my worth as a person. ~ I still exercise and my fitness levels are pretty much the same in both pictures, but my mindset is completely different. Don’t bank your happiness on looking like the models you see in magazines. You’ll spend your entire life trying to achieve a body that might not even be possible! Love yourself and think about all the wonderful things you bring to the world! 🙂 ~ Love you all ????????????????

A post shared by Rishi Bhaskara (@positivitypoppa) on

Rishi Bhaskara advocates for male body positivity, mental and physical health and feminism. He also fundraises for organizations during the half and full marathons he runs. His most recent marathon was run for Beat, an eating disorder charity in the U.K.

Follow Positivity Poppa.

4. Gutless and Glamorous

 Gaylyn Henderson uses her social media presence to fight Crohn’s disease stigmas as well as provide education, empowerment, and awareness for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). “People may stare, that’s OK.  I’ve learned people are either genuinely curious or genuinely inspired,” Henderson told The Mighty. “Curious of what may have caused the scars I have. Inspired because I have the courage to be all that I am regardless of what others may think.”

Follow Gutless and Glamorous.

5. Chronically Carmel

Day 27 ????What you hate most about Lyme ????herxing ????A Herxheimer reaction or Herx for short ????is something that happens when you treat Lyme Disease ????it can be a sign that treatment is working ????????when the bacteria dies off it realises toxins into the body and it really hurts!! ????it causes the Lyme patient to enter a debilitating physical and mental state ????????it can last from a couple hours to a couple weeks ????if it’s not handled properly it can cause a fair bit of damage or even death if it’s really severe ????detoxing is something that really helps ????I have to do it regularly because I have MTHFR as well ????????(a gene mutation to impairs the body’s ability to detox) ????????when I start treatment in a couple weeks there’s gonna some intense herxing ????and I’m pretty nervous ???? but ready ✅and ready to share the journey with you all ????????photo: went to the movies today, we saw Dead Men Tell No Tales ???? ☠️????

A post shared by chronic illness realness ???????? (@chronically_carmel) on

Carmel lives with IBS, fibromyalgia, migraines and Lyme disease. She is open and honest about her experiences and acknowledges how difficult it can be to love your body when you have a chronic illness. Nevertheless, she takes the time to explain and educate, all while maintaining a positive attitude.

Follow Chronically Carmel.

6. Marcela Ilustra

Yesterday I posted about sensitivity and my outburst inspired me to make this illustration. For some time now I’ve identified myself as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), but I realized that I never talked about it. It is basically a condition where a person has a hyper-sensitive nervous system, processes things in a deeper and more detailed way, and has a deep empathy for others. In my experience, being an HSP is being seen as a fragile person almost all the time. I have always cried very easily and have shown negative and positive feelings in a very intense and spontaneous way. If something hurt me I could not hold back tears no matter where and with whom I was. I also always found that having lots of things at the same time made me a bit stressed and surrounded by people for a long time too. Above all I have always worried and felt the emotions of the people around me. I can always tell when someone is not in a good mood or sad and that affects me deeply. A subtle change in the way a person treats me may be capable of causing me an immense anguish and making me wonder about a thousand different possibilities. All this has always made me a very insecure person because many times I’ve heard that I was not normal, that I was making drama or that I was very difficult to deal with.Some people have already used this as a justification for not having sex with me and it hurt. It still hurts when it happens. But today I know I have a positive side in my condition and despite all the suffering, I’m proud of it. I care. I care to help, to understand, to listen and if I were not that way, my job would not be this. I’ve done wonderful things for being HSP. I know my sensitivity may be too much for some and even for me at times, but my empathy is something I would not change. Sensitive and wonderful people, we are not alone. Fight to be proud of who you are and use that in a positive way. We can, you can ❤ #mentalhealth #mentalillness #mentalhealthawareness #highlysensitiveperson #hsp #illustration #art #arte #artistsofinstagram #artist #draw #drawing #desenho #dibujo

A post shared by Marcela Sabiá ???? (@marcelailustra) on

 Marcela Sabiá is a Brazilian illustrator who advocates for mental health, self-love and body positivity. Her drawings range from loving your own smile to remembering it’s OK not to be OK.

Follow Marcela Ilustra.

7. Madeline’s Modelling

Happy World Down Syndrome day from Mexico #BreakingTheMouldTour #downsyndrome #inclusion #holiday

A post shared by Madeline Stuart (@madelinesmodelling_) on

Madeline Stuart is a young woman with Down syndrome who has modeled for magazines, fashion shows and news networks. From a young age, Stuart was determined to be a model and make the fashion industry a place of empowerment and inclusiveness for all. “Maddy just likes to show people that if they believe in themselves they are capable of anything,” Madeline’s mother, Roseann Stuart, opreviously told The Mighty. “To never give up or doubt yourself.”

Follow Madeline’s Modelling.

8. Winnie Harlow

Dreams of being a Bond girl… ???????????? #007

A post shared by ♔Winnie Harlow♔ (@winnieharlow) on

Winnie Harlow is a model who made her fame on “America’s Next Top Model” in 2014. Harlow lives with vitiligo, a chronic skin condition characterized by depigmentation of portions of the skin. After being bullied due to her condition, she struggled with mental illness and contemplated suicide. However, she strove for success and is now a world-renowned model.

Follow Winnie Harlow.

9. Mama Caxx

Mama Caxx is a Haitian-American blogger and is an amputee, advocate and motivational speaker. She uses her social media platforms to talk about body positivity and dismantle notions of what people with disabilities “ought” to look or act like. In September 2016, she was invited to the White House to walk in the first ever White House Fashion Show, celebrating inclusive design.

Follow Mama Caxx.

10. Invisible Body Disabilities

Sapevo che Salvatore, come me, soffre di colite ulcerosa, così decisi di contattarlo per fargli conoscere il mio progetto e conoscere la sua storia. Da quel giorno di qualche mese fa iniziò una lunga conversazione, che ancora oggi prosegue e racconta le nostre battaglie quotidiane e le limitazioni della malattia. Quest’estate ho avuto l’onore di conoscerlo di persona, ascoltando la sua storia e scattando alcune foto (ringrazio A.M.I.C.I. – Associazione Malattie Infiammatorie Croniche dell’Intestino per avermi concesso lo spazio dove ho poi montato la mia attrezzatura). Salvatore mi ha raccontato che prima di Dicembre del 2009 non conosceva la malattia, aveva solamente 19 anni. In un primo momento aveva pensato che il suo malessere fosse legato alla cattiva alimentazione o allo stress dello spostamento a Milano dalla Sicilia per studiare all’università. Solo in un secondo momento (in ospedale), ha scoperto l’esistenza della colite ulcerosa. Fino a due anni fa Salvatore stava abbastanza, viaggiava moltissimo e teneva diversi convegni, poi la ricaduta, il ricovero e varie terapie a seguito. Anche una passeggiata di pochi metri lo sfiniva e il dover uscire fuori di casa gli creava panico misto ad ansia ed agitazione. Adesso, invece, va molto meglio ed ha ripreso a viaggiare, a uscire con più serenità e a tenere più controllata la malattia, e spesso finiamo per raccontarci di cibo e viaggi, tralasciando completamente la malattia! La consapevolezza aiuta a prevenire le ricadute, conoscendo già il tipo dolore, e lascia affrontare in maniera più positiva le battaglie di ogni giorno. Full interview: http://www.invisiblebodydisabilities.org/fotointervista-a-salvatore-aranzulla-ci-accomuna-la-colite-ulcerosa/ #raiseawareness #invisiblebodydisabilitiesproject #ibd #ulcerativecolitis #coliteulcerosa #crohnsandcolitisawareness #salvatorearanzulla #web #informatica #internet

A post shared by invisiblebodydisabilities (@invisiblebodydisabilities) on

The work of Chiara DeMarchi, this account proudly dubs itself as a collection of encouraging stories and images of people living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Individuals are often featured as well as families — demonstrating support, validation and love. While this account is published in Italian, these powerful pictures speak for themselves.

Follow Invisible Body Disabilities.

Have a body positive account you love? Let us know in the comments below. 

rainbow over mountains during sunrise

Gifted, Gay and Chronically Ill: Learning Strength From Adversity


I remember hearing Episcopal Priest, Fr. Ed Bacon, say on the Oprah show that being gay was a gift. Oprah was shocked to hear any clergy member put homosexuality in such a positive context. As a gay man, I immediately understood what he meant. It was a gift because it taught me from a young age to be brave, courageous and speak out against injustice. It taught me how to live authentically. It taught me how to advocate for myself and for others. It taught me not to pay attention to those who would put me down or try and tell me I was less than. It also opened me up to community. Little did I know that years later I would need these skills to deal with chronic health issues.

I am so grateful for all the voices out there, both big and small, who are speaking out and raising awareness not just of the issues of chronic illness, but also of LGBTQ+ rights.

This month, in honor of pride, Billboard asked celebrities to write “love letters” to the LGBTQ+ community. This one particular sentiment jumped out at me. Singer Kelly Clarkson wrote:

“It always makes me feel sad when someone from the LGBTQ community comes up and says thank you so much for being supportive, and how hard their life has been, and how helpful it is when people in the spotlight use their influence to help others. It shouldn’t be this rare, unique thing. It should be a no-brainer to lift, and support everyone, in every community, and encourage people rather than fear or judge what is different from themselves. I can’t wait for the day when there’s not a need for someone to be thanked for doing the obvious.”

We are called to come together to support one another. To lift each other up and give encouragement. Now more than ever, our world needs love and support. Those of us who are chronically ill know the judgment and ridicule we get from the world around us, especially if we are LGBT+. The good news in all of this is that we know how to be strong. We were given that gift.

In one of Kelly’s songs, “People Like Us,” she sings: 

“Hey, everybody loses it
Everybody wants to throw it all away sometimes
And hey, yeah I know what you’re going through
Don’t let it get the best of you, you’ll make it out alive
Oh, people like us we’ve gotta stick together
Keep your head up, nothing lasts forever
Here’s to the damned to the lost and forgotten
It’s hard to get high when you’re living on the bottom.”

 

We know the value of community and finding other people like us. So to all my chronically ill LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, remember you are stronger than you think you are. You are brave, courageous and beautiful. You are the mighty.

This post originally appeared on Stephen Fratello.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Biletskiy_Evgeniy.

woman lying on a chair outside in a bathing suit with a feeding tube visible

Dear Chronically Ill Body: I Can See Now How Hard You're Fighting


Dear body,

I have some important things to clarify with you and even to apologize for. You have cooperated with my soul through everything from jumping out of planes, riding on motorcycles, dancing in competitions, kayaking in oceans and lakes, running through rainstorms, lifting weights and more. You were an active, fit body. Then, we got sick.

For the past 18 months, you have gone through hell. You have fought hard. You have been under attack and still try your best to function. You kept me going as long as you could while I continued to work as a nurse and care for critically ill patients. You had to adjust to getting formula for nourishment, pumped directly into your small intestine. You had to fight through small fiber neuropathy and still try to help me put one foot in front of the other.

I have pumped you full of chemicals and then gotten mad when you presented with a few negative side effects. I have been so frustrated with you when you don’t have the energy to get me out of bed. But I realize now you are busy waging a war deep inside you – a war no one can see or even identify.

woman lying on a chair outside in a bathing suit with a feeding tube visible

I get upset with you when my abdomen swells as if I am pregnant. I curse your name when my legs give out at the end of the day and I have to use my walker to get to the bathroom. I tell you that you have become stupid when I can’t remember a recent conversation or a story I was about to tell or even what I was trying to do. As I take a step back, I remember what you’re going through. Your stomach is paralyzed. When I can no longer block out my hunger, I fill you with food that has no place to go and no way to break down. So, of course you swell up and cause pain! You have foot drop and severe nerve damage in your legs. So, surely you can’t walk around all the time. You have experienced a significant cognitive decline and lost a large number of IQ points. That is not your fault. The disease you are up against has won many battles, but you continue to fight the war.

When I look at you, I see scars. Your neck and chest have big scars. That is because last June, they put a port under your skin. The surgeon made a mistake and had to cut you open two more times to put a central line in through your neck and down into your heart. Your abdomen has six incisions in various places from three laprascopic surgeries. Two of those surgeries took place before this illness even began because you have been dealing with endometriosis since you were old enough to have a period. You have a big scar that looks like a second belly button. That is the scar you should be most proud of. I know I have learned to be proud of it too. That scar is a reminder of the G-J feeding tube you sported for eight months. That site bled and caused me a great deal of pain for almost the entire time you had it. When the complications got bad enough, I pulled that tube out of you myself. I cared for and protected the open hole that remained for several weeks.

Summer approached, and it was time to try on bathing suits. Your hips were huge. I couldn’t even stand to look at them. Many of my clothes didn’t fit right because of them. Once again, I finally stopped to think about what you had endured to get us here. For four months, in the winter and early spring, my doctors injected you with a medication called Lupron. They wanted to keep the endometriosis under control since there were plenty of problems already plaguing your abdominal cavity. That medication induced menopause to prevent the uterine tissue from growing. We went through menopause at the mere age of 23. I cried when the nightmares and hot flashes woke me up at night. It wasn’t your fault. You were struggling and I brought all of that upon you.

 

After the injections stopped, the menopause was slowly reversed. The side effects diminished, but you had gained weight on your hips. I continued to be disgusted by the weight gain considering I couldn’t even eat anything! The gastrointestinal doctors assumed my nutritional status was under control because you weren’t losing weight. As the hormone reversal continued to take place, some of the weight was lost and we realized I really was not getting enough nutrition. The hormones covered up the outer image and fooled the scale, but really you were starving inside.

They put you back on TPN so you would receive nourishment through your venous system. I know how hard that is for your heart, liver and kidneys to process. The doctors check your blood counts and liver panel every week, but we all know that at any point, you may become too tired. Your liver may start to give up the fight and slack off on the enormous task it has been forced to accomplish. I understand. I am prepared for that possibility and for that day, whenever it may come.You have gone above and beyond. You have been dealt more problems than most bodies ever have to face in an entire lifetime. But you are doing it all at once. You have been under attack for over a year and a half. You have also never stopped fighting for me or with me. I am working together with you now. We are united.

I want you to know how sorry I am for blaming you, cursing you and hating you. You are beautiful. Now, when I look at you in the mirror, I see a warrior. I see battle scars that physically represent what you have overcome. Your hips are trophies for going through menopause nearly 30 years earlier than other woman; not to mention it was chemically induced and much more rapid than the natural version. I am in this with you; you are not alone. I see what you have done for me. I see you. You have maintained the integrity of many of my looks, to the point that a lot of people think I don’t even look sick. That is pretty impressive considering what is going on beneath your surface. You deserve a hell of a lot more credit than I have given you. I have come to terms with the fact that you may not be able to fight this forever. The time you have given me so far is such a gift. I promise not to take it for granted. I know you can tell that part is true because I am still dragging you out on modified adventures. I am making the most of this time while you fight. When you grow tired though, I will be ready.

I could not do this without you. I am grateful you are helping me through this tragically beautiful journey. The next time I put on my bathing suit, I will rock the hell out of it. I will display you proudly. I love you, body, and I want to be your friend.

Sincerely,

The heart and soul you have fought to protect

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

A woman in front of a dark background hodls a burning candle.

12 Ways to Find Light in the Darkness of Chronic Illness


Everyone that walks this earth experiences darkness during some point in life. After a break up, losing a loved one, losing a job, not getting into a dream school…The list goes on. Why me? How could I possibly be happy again? Will my life ever be normal after this? These are questions we often ask ourselves when we are stuck in a dark room, searching for the light switch and wondering if we will ever return to the world the same once we find it. Finding the light switch may seem impossible. It may seem easier to learn how to see in the dark rather than trying to find it, or we may not even want to find it.

For me, the darkness appeared when I became sick and doctors couldn’t figure out why.

During the first few months of struggling with not feeling well and not knowing why, many of my friends asked me how I could smile. Now, having been diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses, my friends ask the same question. How could I possibly smile when daily I deal with pain, can be weighed down by fatigue, my body has changed, I am constantly pricked and poked by needles, and I can’t eat Oreos or pizza? Well, the answer is, I eat dark chocolate and there’s something called gluten-free crust. (Just kidding.)

I came to the realization that I could live my life feeling sorry for myself, or I could be grateful that I can breathe and walk on my own, pick my sorry self up and carry on with my life. I only have one life and there was no way I was going to spend it feeling sorry for myself. No one was going to join me in my little pity party, and what fun is a party all by yourself? All jokes aside, I came to a realization that I could live my life bogged down by what I suffer, or live a full life despite all of it. I chose the latter. I found the light switch when doctors finally gave me answers. And now I know I will not return to the world the same. Different, yes, but wiser, stronger and more empathetic and loving. Some days it is harder to live that way than others, which I why I came up with these ideals to live by.

1. Channel all of your emotions bottled up inside into positive ones.

Easier said than done, right? You have all of these emotions boiling inside of you, ready to bubble over – tension, anger, fear, sadness, loneliness. Whatever they may be, acknowledge them for what they are, but don’t let them boil over negatively. Take all of that energy built up inside of you, and let it boil over positively. Invest that energy you possess into activities or people that you love.

2. Take the time each day to think of three things that you are grateful for.

No matter how difficult your day has been, there are always at least three things in your life that you can be grateful for. When it feels as though you have lost everything in the world, this exercise reminds you that there is still some good in your life.

3. Remember what you do have, not what you don’t.

You don’t have your significant other, but you do have the time to embark on a self-reflection journey and learn how to be happy independently. You didn’t get into your dream college, but you did get into many other colleges that will provide you with an exceptional education and help bring you one step closer to your goals.

4. Be someone else’s light if you can’t be your own.

All humans possess love. It may be difficult to find under certain circumstances, but it is there. If you are unable or unwilling to give yourself love at this time, then give that love to someone else. Don’t let it just sit there. Embody it.

5. Write!

Thoughts, emotions, ideas. Don’t lash out on other people and bring them down just because you are upset. Write out your feelings and later you won’t have to apologize for what you said.

6. Think of the strength and wisdom that you have gained through your experience.

You can’t change your physical situation. You can’t change the past. So, instead of letting it affect your future, don’t. Take time to grieve or cry, if you may. Then, face the situation. Look it straight in the eyes and let it know that it can’t defeat you. It won’t. Don’t let it change your life more than it already has. Your strength has been tested through this ruthless, challenging experience. But, you are still alive. You faced the challenge and continued to live despite it all.

7. Take this time to connect with your faith.

Challenging times test our faith, which can make it waver. Don’t lose faith, find it. Find out what it truly means to you.

8. Use you experience to help others who are struggling.

Let others, and yourself, know that you are not alone. Be a source of wisdom, guidance and comfort for those who are also going through a difficult time. Knowing that you have helped someone else because of your struggle may ease your pain.

9. Recognize who has been by your side through this difficult time.

The friends who have been a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand, or a comforting presence are your true friends. Be grateful that this experience helped you come to this realization. Those are the friends you can count on and should invest your energy into.

10. Remember that the world is not against you. Everyone will face a battle. This just happens to be yours.

Your battle may seem worse than some others, but it also may be better. We aren’t guaranteed anything in this life: love, family, friends, health, security. At least you are still alive, in this moment. Be grateful for that.

11. Your battle does not define you. How you overcome the battle does.

Be someone who perseveres, not someone who succumbs to their situation.

12. You can’t always change your physical situation, but you can change your mental one.

Don’t waste your life away being trapped in a negative mind. For me, I couldn’t change the fact that doctors told me I couldn’t run anymore. Instead of being plagued by this restriction, I changed my mentality about the situation. I found a new love for barre and yoga.

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