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How I Use the 4 Hogwarts House Values in Life With Chronic Illness

“Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts. Teach us something, please!”

I am a massive Harry Potter fan. I read the books as soon as they hit the shelves when I was a wee one and I grew up with Harry. When the books ended, it felt like I was saying goodbye to some old friends who had helped me through so many troubles throughout more than half my lifetime that they’ve been a part of.

When fibromyalgia joined my list of conditions that I’m currently battling, I knew that I had to make some big changes to be able to battle this. I’ve been fighting chronic illnesses since I was a kid, and I won’t lie. This latest diagnosis wasn’t making me a bit weary. This was not going to be something simple to solve and I was warned by multiple doctors that this wasn’t going to be an easy fight. So why not turn back to old friends and lessons?

1. Gryffindor: Courage, Bravery, and Determination

Living with fibromyalgia (or any sort of chronic condition) takes a lot of courage and bravery. This is not meant to be pacifying by any means. It literally takes a lot of courage and bravery to go day-to-day fighting your own body. It takes courage and bravery to try new medications and treatments that may or may not work, or may or may not have adverse side effects.

There’s so much determination that comes with living with chronic illness. There’s the determination to not let it take control your life. There’s the determination to keep moving forward when roadblocks arrive. There’s the determination to live as normal of a life as one possibly can.

2. Hufflepuff: Loyal, Patient, Fair, Hard-Working, and True

Now I may just be a tad bit biased here since Hufflepuff is my house (shoutout to my fellow Badgers!), but Hufflepuff’s traits help to keep your spirit and humanity while fighting a chronic illness. Loyalty is a big one. You quickly learn which family members and friends are loyal and by your side, and which ones feel that your illness is “too much” for them. Pay attention to those who stay with you and embrace them.

Patience and fairness go hand in hand. You need to be patient and fight something that, quite frankly, just is not fair. You need to be patient while trying different treatments, medications or lifestyle changes. There’s no rushing recovery, no matter what pressure is on you.

Those with chronic illnesses are not lazy (sort of like one of the assumptions about Hufflepuff house). If anything, we are extraordinarily hard-working. In addition to dealing with the day-to-day life, we’re also dealing with the hand that our chronic illness deals us each day. Is it going to be a day where you barely notice your illness, or will it be a day where it consumes you?

But we always must be true to ourselves. To be true to ourselves, we must be our own best advocates. I blog each day to increase the awareness of fibromyalgia. I fight with my insurance companies to get them to cover my medications. I’m learning to accept accommodations and help presented to me without arguing or worrying about my pride or self-esteem. For the first time in my life, I’m putting myself first before others. At first, it felt selfish, but then I realized that that’s the current path I need to take while working to reach remission.

3. Ravenclaw: Wit, Learning, and Wisdom.

Wit and learning are one of the cornerstones that comes with a chronic illness. When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I took the first 48 hours or so and read everything that I possibly could about it. I made notes about what treatments were helpful for people and which ones were duds. I learned terminology and began tracking my symptoms even more closely. When I went to my first rheumatologist appointment, I presented all the information that I knew and we worked out a treatment plan.

Wisdom can be applied to self-care. We develop the wisdom to know our own limits, whether we use intuition or something like the spoon theory. We learn when our body has had enough and when we can push it just a little bit more.

4. Slytherin: Ambition, Cunning, and Resourcefulness

Slytherin’s ambition is similar to a Gryffindor’s determination. For me, my ambition is to have my fibromyalgia enter remission. My ambition is to present my story to give a view of what it’s like to be chronically ill in America.

The only one that I would not always apply to living with a chronic illness is cunning. This defeats the value of trueness from Hufflepuff house. You don’t want to always be deceitful. However, sometimes it’s necessary. When I worked in the tech industry, I was deceitful in a way by not disclosing my disabilities. While I realize that it could have saved me a lot of grief and I could’ve received some accommodations, because of society’s view of disabled individuals, I feared backlash or my team thinking that I was “less than.” In doing so, yes, it was deceitful – but at the end of the day, I had a job and was able to pay my medical bills.

Collect your resources when dealing with a chronic illness. I keep news alerts for mine so that I can catch the latest breaking news. I have books about them, folders and bookmarks of information. I belong to different support groups and learn more about what people have tried to relieve symptoms, while everyone provides the mental support to each other that someone that doesn’t have a chronic illness might not understand. I test different products to see which ones might work for me and which ones will not work for me. In blogging and reviewing them, I hope to be able to reach someone who is looking for some relief. It is the least that I can do to give back.

We can only dream about what it would be like to live with a chronic illness in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World (though we can get a glance at it with Lupin living with lycanthropy). Would Madame Pomfrey be able to cure me when I was battling seizures at the age of 12? Would Saint Mungo’s be able to cure me within a couple of weeks? Would Professor Snape have taken a liking to a young Hufflepuff who had a knack for potions and help make my life more reasonable? Probably not. But, hey – I can dream, right?!

There you have it! The four Hogwarts houses and their values that I use as someone with chronic illnesses. It helps me get through each day and successfully fight the battle that has entered my life.

Which house’s values do you most connect with?

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Photo courtesy of the Harry Potter Facebook page