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The Importance of Having Hope and Dreams on Your Bad Health Days

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

This is my favorite quote.

I got it as a tattoo at one of the lowest points in my illness to remind me never to give up. It helps me remember that as long as I have one reason, as small as it may be (or even a goal), that I can get through anything.

The quote is from Nietzsche. It is also used in Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” He is using it to refer to how he got through the Holocaust. To get through the torture, starvation, and suffering, he discusses the importance of having something you love to hold onto – to propel you forward on even the darkest of days.

This is exceptionally hard when you are separated from the reality or possibility of that thing ever coming to fruition, and so that thing seems like a far off dream or hope. But, imagine the strength of Frankl, hoping for his dreams to become reality.

For me it was writing. I always wanted to be a writer. When I was first diagnosed with lupus, I went through a long period where I stopped being able to write at all, even on a keyboard, due to the arthritis in my hands. This was infuriating to me.

I could not pick up a cup or pencil, and other people had to cut my food for me. I could not turn on taps – I could not dress myself or button up my clothes. I’m sure many people with lupus and other chronic pain conditions can relate to this.

This only stopped being the case roughly six months ago. It has been a long journey of stops and starts as I took two steps forward and six back. There has been pain, loss, gains, frustration, hope and anger. Through it all the important thing is that I have held on to the idea that it would one day work out.

I held on strong that one day I would write. I found ways. I downloaded voice apps, and made voice notes of stories. Other people wrote for me, and I took photos where I could of things that I would one day be able to use. I knew it would one day happen for me, and told myself that if I gave up I would be ruining any chance I would ever have of it becoming a reality.

And I have wanted to give up so many times because it has taken so long… and some days were so dark and I literally had nothing but that dream and my thoughts and the pain.

The progress has been slow and excruciatingly hard. Holding on to that one reason or goal when there were no other reasons left, or my only reason has been a far off goal that seems impossibly hard – it has been worth it.

I can tell you that this dream has slowly started coming to reality for me, and that I am glad I held out. On days when things are bad again, and I can’t do much or can’t work as much, I spend that time planning my next steps and what I will do when I feel better.

Never stop dreaming. You were put on earth for a reason. Don’t give up.

Find your reason, and hold on to it.

When all else seems to be down the drain, just hold on to that one reason. It needs to be something bigger than you and your illness. It needs to have the power to pull both of you forward on the bad days and bring hope when there is none. It needs to give you the power to dream about great things and make you happy when you are down. It needs to lift you up – to take you away to the land of, “When things improve, this will be how it all works out.”

If you are feeling particularly down right now, believe that this is possible.

Think of that something you would love to be a reality (your “why”), even if you are really unwell. Hold out hope that it can happen. If you can’t think of something you’d like to do yet, then think of someone or something you really love in your life. Let that be your thing first, the reason not to give up yet.

Remember that giving up means giving up the chance of things ever getting better or getting to see yourself achieving what you love.

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

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 “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Thinkstock Image By: borojoint

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