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Why I'm Determined to 'Bloom Where I'm Planted' – Chronic Illness and All

In the very beginning of my chronic illness symptom onset, I felt more hopeless than I had every felt before. I couldn’t imagine how life would ever resemble “normal.” I mourned the friends who pulled away, and I pushed those who remained as far away as possible. I was scared and miserable. Yet, somewhere amid all that despair, there was an inkling of encouragement. A mantra of sorts began to play within my thoughts, “I have to bloom where I’m planted.”

When that phrase still felt empty and pointless, I still said it. I looked at my days and asked, “Am I blooming yet?” When you go from being a bride and a teacher, a young person just beginning to see her life take shape, and suddenly you’re sick, no longer able to work, and feel like the least attractive human on earth – you lose sight of yourself. For many years, I defined myself by my career, and suddenly, it was gone. I was newly married, just beginning to think of myself as a wife, and suddenly every bodily function was on the fritz. It was far from my finest moment.

However, I had my mantra. I had the deep desire in my heart to bloom, even though planted in a less than desirable place. So, I tried. I look back today and realize that physically life is not any easier than it was at that time. In fact, my disorders have progressed in ways that both frighten and frustrate me. But, I no longer feel like I’m a person who should be pitied. I’m not ashamed of who I am – or what illness has made me.

Looking back, I know that there wasn’t a check list or a blog post that answered all my questions. I know that this blog won’t answer all the questions for someone newly diagnosed. However, I also believe there are changes in thinking and positive steps that I made that helped me reach a better place emotionally. Please, don’t think I’m saying a positive attitude will cure your disorder, it probably won’t. But, there are a few things that have made life less painful for me, and I’ll share them with you.

1. Don’t chase miracle cures.

I get it. If I had scientific evidence that eating MoonPies under a pine tree at midnight would help my condition, I would throw myself a MoonPie party under the trees tonight. But… that is ridiculous, so I probably won’t indulge in that particular “treatment” any time soon. Please, if you find an oil, a smoothie, a supplement, or a moon rock that helps alleviate your symptoms, use it to the fullest extent of its usefulness. But, keep in mind that products that are aimed at the chronically ill are often not all that helpful. I Googled, purchased, and lamented the ineffectiveness of so many herbs, supplements, magic drinks, and powders that it’s amazing I still had the money to go see an actual doctor. I’m not saying that there couldn’t possibly be a non-medical treatment that helps you, but I am saying that I went through a lot of disappointment trying to find the magic cure for me.

2. Don’t try to be strong or inspiring.

The people who inspire me the most in life are those who have truly gone through hard times and remained transparent about the struggle. I tried to have a positive outlook and smile through the pain, and it made me feel like a fraud. Instead, I’ve learned to be painfully honest about the days that blow like the wind. I’ve also learned that I can be honest about pain and struggles without being unkind or overly unpleasant. When I tried to be a superhero that never complained and always smiled, I was living a lie. It was hard on me, and it was especially hard on those closest to me who had to handle all of the “real” me when I was at my worst. By opening up through blogging and a social media platform about the reality of living with illness, I gave myself space to be true. What I learned is that most people aren’t looking for a superhero sick person. Most are happy with honesty – and maybe a few laughs along the way.

3. Don’t be afraid to accept a new normal.

At the onset of my most severe symptoms, I was devastated at the idea of losing the life I had built for myself. I desperately clung to my job, my independence, my mobility, and even the people in my life who were pulling away. I was so afraid that turning loose of my life as I knew it was the end of me. What I’ve learned is that life is a series of adapting to new normal. Yes, the new normal come more quickly when illness is factored into the equation. However, new normals aren’t always bad. I will always miss the old me, but, if I’m being honest, I’m sort of proud of how the current me is coming together.

Friends, it’s no secret that being sick is hard work. None of us chose this life. Ultimately, you can’t change where life has chosen to plant you, though, so you may as well do your best to bloom. Am I blooming yet? I’m not sure, but I’m positive that I’m trying.

Follow this journey at Crazy Chronic Life.

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Thinkstock Image By: artant

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