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How Taking On Projects Is Actually Beneficial for Me in Dealing With Chronic Illness

I’ve always been someone who needs a project. When my health was at its worst, I had zero interest in anything, except crawling into bed. I dragged myself through each day, forcing myself to do the bare minimum. Living with a chronic illness can make everything so much harder, and there were times when my fibromyalgia was almost unbearable. Since being diagnosed, and working with different treatment, things have changed, and although there’s no cure, and flares can strike at any moment, it means I can do more than just drag myself through each day, enjoying nothing.

Some people might wonder why I’ve signed up for a Masters, since I’m working full-time and tackling fibromyalgia. Others might not believe I’m really ill. All I can say is that I truly feel myself when I feel like I’m achieving something. Working towards a qualification helps keep me focused, and shuts out the depression that often comes with a chronic illness.


As my health has slowly improved, I’ve found myself being able to do more and more. Before I was diagnosed, I felt the blackness and despair close in on an almost daily basis. I couldn’t even cook a decent meal or meet a friend for coffee on the weekend. I very much bought into the spoon theory, and always felt myself bereft of spoons.

I’m definitely someone who works well under pressure. If I have a goal to hit, I find my focus narrowing, sometimes to the point of obsession. I’m one of those people who struggles to “switch off.” But if I don’t have something going on, the humdrum of daily life drags me down. I get so focused on what’s wrong with me, I can’t see what’s right in my life.

My blog helped keep me focused during my darkest times. It was hard to keep it going, but it gave me an outlet I desperately needed, as writing these articles still does for me. I wrote and published a collection of short stories, something that took several years, but was such a huge achievement. This year, I’ve taken up painting mason jars and creating more jazzy social media posts for my blog. I went on a few courses at work. And now, I’ll be starting a Masters by research in January. I chose this option because, when studying part-time, I essentially have two years to complete a dissertation, remotely. I won’t have to attend the university, since there’s no taught element of the course. It’s all dependent on self-study, with the support of a supervisor.

I’ve always loved learning. I was a passionate undergraduate, working hard and eschewing the typical student life to spend time on my assignments. I graduated with an excellent grade, and truly loved my time at university. My dissertation was published a couple of years after I graduated, another achievement I’m immensely proud of. I feel ready now to continue my education; it feels like the right time.

Living with a chronic illness can be hard, even soul-destroying at times. And each time I do something I’d previously felt was impossible, a little bit more of that cloud gets lifted away.

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Thinkstock photo via jossdim.