Learning to Accept the Limitations That Have Come With My Chronic Illness

Sometimes I have felt like my disease is taking over. When I first was in the midst of getting diagnosed, my life consisted of doctors, tests, procedures and medications. I was in a constant state of physical pain, confusion and hopelessness. It was a dark time.

Now things have slowly changed in some ways.  I am going to school. It is really hard but I am doing it. I have a lot of good things going for me. Still though, when it’s night and the pain has gotten worse throughout the day, I find myself feeling like the disease is taking over. Sometimes I feel I have lost myself with this disease. The reality is I haven’t. I have lost the ability to do a lot of things, yes, but I haven’t lost who I am deep down.

It is hard to accept that I cannot do the things I used to do. For example, yesterday I went to the mall. It had been raining outside, was cold and was night. These three factors can affect my illness tremendously. I could barely walk around the mall. It was a struggle and more than anything it was a battle internally.

Learning my limits has been a difficult part of dealing with a chronic illness, especially when you have a progressive disease. It is a necessary part though. I have to learn what I can do and when I need to take a break. As I mentioned in a blog post before, self-care is a necessary part of my journey.

Doing something fun is an important part of self-care as well. It is so easy to get caught up with doctor appointments, medications and procedures that I can forget to have fun. Doing something enjoyable helps when I feel like I am drowning from the illness. Doing something enjoyable for me means playing the guitar, watching a movie, reading a funny book and talking with a friend. It is important for me to have these moments, because for a couple hours I am not focusing on the pain but on the joy and the simple things of life. It’s a nice distraction. So when I feel my illness is taking over I try to do these things.

Honestly there are times I can’t and the best I can do is lay down with my heating pad. That is OK. Being gentle with myself has been essential. Finding some happiness amidst the sadness is what I try to do. It is OK to feel my feelings, to fight, to feel joy, to feel sadness. When I acknowledge that I am feeling these things it helps me not feel as alone. Chronic illness can be very lonely. The acceptance part is hard, and I have fought it kicking and screaming. Today I have accepted that I have this chronic illness and with that acceptance there is freedom.

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