39 Reasons to Keep Living When Chronic Illness Makes You Feel Hopeless
Life with chronic illness is so much more than just the physical symptoms. Fighting to make it through each day can take a huge toll on your mental and emotional health. It’s incredibly difficult to keep “powering through” some days when you know this illness will never go away. Feelings of depression, frustration and hopelessness are unfortunately all too common in the chronic illness community. (If you feel this way, know you are not alone.)
During National Suicide Prevention Week (September 10-16), it is especially important to not only raise awareness about how those with chronic illness are affected by suicidal thoughts, but to also celebrate the beautiful parts of life — the reasons people have to always keep fighting.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. “Knowing the next ‘good day’ could be just around the bend. There are a ton of promising treatments coming down the line soon for a lot of chronic illnesses. Also knowing I’m not alone and have plenty of spoonies to sympathize with. And Netflix. Lots of Netflix.” – Katherine R.
2. “My doctor’s unwavering determination to find an answer, and then give me back the quality of life I didn’t even realize I had lost over the years. He fights for me when I don’t feel like I can fight for myself.” – Jill A.
3. “Burlesque dancing – it has been my reality escape for a few years now.” – Joanne B.
4. “My besties, my friends, my family, organizations I volunteer with and knowing there are others out there who are like me and we need help. I will keep up the fight because together we can all make a difference. I care [for] and support all who live with chronic pain.” – Judith F. I.
5. “My girls. They have so much compassion and understanding for such little people! When I feel my illnesses make me a bad mom they remind me of all the ways it’s made them better and me. It’s not easy, but they are my inspiration. They are my fight. They fuel my fire to get up and push through.” – Jessica U.
6. “Music. Don’t know where I would be without it.” – Phoebe D.
7. “My television shows. I have to know what happens next week. They keep me going when nothing else does.” – Liberty W.
8. “Jesus. Reading scripture. Praying. My God has all the hope I need that my life with diseases and pain is not without purpose, greater than I can comprehend.” – Kathryn A.
9. “My sheer stubbornness. I refuse to let my diseases beat me!” – Jessica R.
10. “I might have to wait a long time, but medical progress will come. I’m not even 30 years old yet and my conditions aren’t [terminal]. I’m going to be living with these for a long time and eventually medicine will find ways to help me or maybe even cure me. Could be sooner than I think.” – Jessica S.
11. “My overwhelming curiosity of the natural world.” – Hannah D.
12. “Sheer competitiveness. I refuse to let anything beat me, including my own body. Some days it might win a battle, but I will win the war.” – Morgan D.
13. “My husband. He’s the reason I smile, the good in my life when all I feel is pain… I keep going for the moments when I can make him smile. It’s the least I can do after all he does to support me physically, emotionally and financially. Even if the bad days far outnumber the good, those good moments with him are worth so much more.” – Kerry W.
14. “Keeping my promises to my rescued dogs and cats to give them a safe and loving home for the rest of their lives.” – Kemmeth R. W.
15. “What encourages me to keep fighting the hopelessness I am surrounded by day in and day out is becoming an Independent Beauty Consultant. It gets me excited for my future with the disease.” – Alane P.
16. “My son. Any time I feel like giving up, I know I have to keep fighting because he needs me. He literally saved my life.” – Jim T.
17. “Antidepressants. Just being honest. I have a great husband and great kid and yet it wasn’t enough to get me out of the hole of despair of being sick almost every day for over a year. It’s a lot to face and I refuse to be ashamed. I am proud of the person I can be with my antidepressants.” – Jacqueline B.
18. “My niece Shug. Since I started raising her there is nothing I won’t endure to see her smile every day. Every day is hell inside and I still wear a smile most of the day because she is with me. I don’t know how I got along for years without her. Giving up will never be a thought again.” – Brittany A.
19. “Everyone who ever says something negative about me and my chronic illnesses. I may not be able to do much, but I can prove them wrong, and that’s all the motivation I need to keep going.” – Bonnie P.
20. “My wife – she comes first in all things… Her happiness is my happiness.” – Johnathan M.
21. “Spiritual perspective – that I am being guided, I am not in control. Practicing mindfulness and self-compassion.” – Karen W. N.
22. “My chronic illness friends who draw hope and inspiration from me as well as my passion to advocate for others. I have a unique opportunity to reach various target audiences as a doctor and rare disease patient.” – Brandi S.
23. “[I hope] that one day I may get new lungs.” – Nat C.
24. “My passion for henna. I’m a henna artist who loves, loves doing henna and just learning about it all. The henna community is extremely supportive too.” – Aneeta K. N.
25. “The start of a new day always fills me with fresh hope – that and seemingly eternal optimism, no matter what! But when things have been really tough, we pack our bags and head away for a few days of nature and solitude, a reminder of how amazing the world is.” – Lisa K.
26. “My fur babies – they give me a reason to get up every day and I know they love me unconditionally no matter how I look, or if I have to cancel plans, they’re always there. And they just make me happy. They turn a crappy day into a good day.” – Janelle F.
27. “My crochet. It means so much to me, and working on long-term projects means I can always give myself something to focus on.” – Erika D. B.
28. “Knowing I will be going back to school soon.” – Jennifer T.
29. “I try to focus on the good days. I remember the days when I have felt pretty OK, or at least better, and try to remember my symptoms tend to ebb and flow, so though today, this week, this month, may have been awful, I will probably have an ebb in my symptoms soon and not feel this bad forever.” – Alicia T.
30. “Knowing there is purpose in my pain. This experience may help others in their fight. I fight for them, for all of us.” – Emily N.
31. ”’The best is yet to come.’ Life in general is what encourages me. There’s so much to see, experience and live for. I’ve been through hard times of despair, depression and feelings of hopelessness, only to come out on the other side smiling and laughing.” – Effie K.
32. “My writing. I write about chronically ill characters. It helps me strive to bring awareness and give hope to others.” – Morgan S. R.
33. “Not every day is bad; I look for the little things – like the joy I feel working with our leadership students. It’s small and minute, but so precious. Those moments are worth living for.” – Carolyn H.
34. “This chronic pain page on FB. It is my support group! I love them so dearly! Hugs.” – Judy A.
35. “I keep looking for a way to smile, even when I feel like crying. It can be a child laughing, an old couple holding hands or even a bird trying to catch a bug. Yes, I have days when it’s all too much but I have to just say to myself that tomorrow will be better and I have hope I will find a cure one day.” – Melissa W.
36. “My grandson. I want to watch him grow up. I cannot give up!” – Michelle N.
37. “Maybe it’s funny, but my cat. She needs me for playing, eating, etc. but when I can’t get up from my bed she lays next to me. Quietly. She just looks into my eyes and looks like she understands me and she can feels my pain. Her eyes looks like tells me: I understand you, no problem, it’s OK. Tomorrow will be there for cleaning, playing, washing dishes, etc.” – Brigó N.
38. “My creative pursuits. I’m a writer, photographer, artist. It’s my coping mechanism.” – Courtney S.
39. “I stop, take a breath and remember this is just one moment in one day. It’s not about tomorrow, the next day or the rest of my life. I focus on what I can do to make things better in that moment, accept what I can’t and just focus on getting through that one moment. And then the next…” – Lisa A.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.