How to Live Well After Being Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness
I think we can all agree there isn’t any “official guide book” to life. Nothing concrete to tell us exactly how everything will play out. But usually as a healthy person there have been enough people to come before you with similar life circumstances or situations that have given you somewhat of a blueprint and hope of possible successful materializations. Life with chronic illness isn’t exactly like that. Chronic illnesses affect everyone differently, and rare or the multiple combinations of them in any given person doesn’t yield the same experience.
There’s really nothing tangible I can say is available to guide you through life after diagnosis. Though there isn’t a book, healthy emotional intelligence and self-awareness is the key I’ve found to unlocking my life after diagnosis. When I’m referring to self-awareness, I am not entirely referring to your “new current set of real or perceived limitations.” I mean the type of self-awareness that allows you to have an honest conversation with yourself about your strengths, where you are in context to your new reality, how you will survive, what you need in terms of support and how you’re feeling so you can take an active role in navigating this new phase of life.
Taking the time to really get honest with yourself in accessing then doubling down on your strengths is a successful way I’ve found to navigate my new life after diagnosis. Self-awareness is your personal tool to managing your happiness, your energy, your life!! In the coming moments, days, weeks, months and years, every day won’t be perfect, every day won’t even be good, but the key is accepting what you cannot change and focusing your energies on the gifts you presently have to share with the world. Think of this as something that doesn’t have to be tangible, like my Spoonie Essentials Box chronic illness care package business, but the qualities whether tangible or in kind that make you uniquely you. Whatever things, abilities and places bring you personal joy and fulfillment.
Honestly, it’s more of a state of mind than anything. Committing to yourself that from this day forward you will try your damnedest to focus on the good, focus your energy on what gifts you share, waking up each day, anything and everything that brings you joy and assists you in realizing that your worth, your happiness, your life is not defined by what you cannot do, but what you can and do do!
I sincerely urge you to champion your days by the moment. The ugly truth is, you cannot turn back the hands of time and who you once were before, “forever sick” or otherwise, will no longer be. The uglier truth is, in reality you have no solid proof your life would have worked out exactly how you wanted it to in the first place. That’s true for healthy or chronically healthy people. Drake was right, “You Only Live Once,” and by embracing yourself in all that you are now presently in this moment is essential to unlocking a happy fulfilled life after diagnosis.
Accepting that you have changed and are different than you were before being diagnosed is hard. It’s even harder to accept that the life you lived before is gone. The key for me was accepting that I am different isn’t allowing my illnesses to win, it’s a personal decision to accept I have to adopt different habits to maintain my health and emotional well-being. I was once a former collegiate athlete that would do any workout, hike any mountain and park at the far end of the lot for extra exercise. That’s not me anymore. My illnesses aren’t winning if I accept these as facts and do things that protect my energy and prolong the “healthy streaks.”
For the next 24 hours, I challenge you to take each hour moment by moment and try your best to live well in those moments. Eventually the moments add up and you’re well on your way to thriving and living the rest of your life, rather than living in a longing state of a former life lived.
“Never give up, never surrender! You got this!”
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Thinkstock photo via m-imagephotography.