What It Means to Be Chronically Ill

I am not that chronically ill person who “never complained.”

I am not that chronically ill person who is always good at pushing through.

But I learned one thing – to learn to be happy when I’m in pain. (Or dizzy, or nauseous, or whatever my primary symptom is.)

For the first three months of my chronic illness journey, I was a ray of sunshine. I saw this as a journey with an end date somewhere in close future, where a surgery or a treatment would “cure” me and I would close this chapter in my life… only to bring it back on college essays about bravery, and to do fundraiser once a year or so to help other that were left struggling.

That didn’t happen.

I was about five months in and realizing more and more everyday that this will not be an open and shut case. I began to become moody and angry. I was depressed and felt horrific. But then I went to the Mayo Clinic.

When I went to the Mayo Clinic, I was expecting a cure in the form of a medicine or a surgery. However, through the many days of road tripping, meeting new people, and exploring MedCity, I found a different type of cure. An emotional cure, that is. I learned I had to learn to be happy when I was pain.

Many of us are taught as children that sick means “sad.” For able-bodied people, this tends to be the case. But if live your life in pain, if you live by the “sick equals sad” philosophy, you will never be happy. I believe you must learn how to smile, laugh and have fun while you’re sore.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t wake up sometimes and grieve the body you once had. This doesn’t mean that someday it’s too much and you want just cry. Go ahead and cry.

This means learning what you need to do to manage your pain. This means using a cane, walker or wheelchair for the day when you have sore days. This means cutting out the thing you don’t enjoy or the people that don’t make you happy, so you can live your life to the fullest. This means finding friends who are OK with with all that comes with your illness. This means hearing a lot of, “You must feel good today since you’re out,” and having to shrug it off. But it also means taking back your life so you’re not only surviving with chronic pain, but you’re living.

I hope this information finds you in a time and place in which you can use it. Just remember, you can do it.

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

Thinkstock Image By: tomorca

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Fibromyalgia

An African American woman looking into the camera.

Why These Words Aren't Interchangeable When Responding to a Friend's Illness

For as long as I can remember the words sympathy, empathy, pity and compassion have been tossed around and used interchangeably, as if they were one and the same. I would like the chance to prove that they are not. Now, I won’t disagree that sympathy and pity can usually be lumped together, as they [...]

My Experience Taking Amitriptyline for Fibromyalgia

Editor’s note: The following is based on an individual’s experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before going on or off medication. When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the rheumatologist immediately suggested I try amitriptyline, gradually increasing my dose in line with my GP’s guidance. At the time of my [...]
woman smiling and hugging her father

How My Father Inspires Me to Keep Battling Fibromyalgia

In our journey of trying to understand this illness called fibromyalgia, it’s important to have faith and hope. Faith that one day I’ll get this pacing business right and live in some semblance of normalcy in a world of chaos. The chaos of managing even day-to-day activities. It’s a quiet Sunday morning and, like most [...]

What I Want Newly Diagnosed Fibro Warriors to Know

There have been a few times when close friends, or people who came across my blogs, have contacted me, asking me for advice as they are suspected to have fibromyalgia. Sometimes they found something treatable and other times the diagnosis came back positive for fibromyalgia. It is heartbreaking how many people struggle with this illness and terrifying [...]