Thinking About the 'What Ifs' When You Live With Chronic Illness


I often find myself envious of other people. I look at a person walking down the street and think to myself, “What if my life path was different?” It’s not uncommon at all for a person with a chronic illness to try to rationalize in their mind why their life is the way it is. Why our journey wasn’t as straightforward as a healthy, not progressively sick person. If I’m really being honest, the number one question I ask myself as a chronically ill human being is and always will be, “Why me?!” It’s human nature to question all of the not-so-pleasant events that take place in our lives. Especially ones we have no control over the cause of. Now do not get me wrong, I’m very happy in my life, and am so grateful for all of the amazing people I have come to know and love and for each and every day that I am still here to enjoy those people. But sometimes I catch myself wondering how my life would be if things were different. So my question to all of my readers is: Is it healthy to think about the what ifs and the could have beens?

I was diagnosed with my chronic illness a month after my 19th birthday. I was caught completely off guard and I was in shock for a few months after. To make matters worse, I couldn’t find more than two sentences online or in textbooks when I tried to do some medical research about my illness and the hits just kept on coming. Trying to look for a specialist locally was laughable at best! No one knew what my illness was or how to treat it. I felt like I was living in an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” It took several years and a lot of work to get a great team of doctors to treat me and for that I am very proud of myself because I did that all on my own!

I have been living with a chronic illness now for about 17 years. For the most part it has at times taken over my life. I cannot do most of the things I used to do, things I loved to do like swim, dancing, amusement parks. It has been hard. Having to completely make over your entire life to suit an illness that for some reason never seems to be the right size no matter how many times you tailor it! That is where I think the envy of other people’s lives comes from, and most definitely not their money, or materialistic items; for me I envy the time they have left with their loved ones, their attitudes of carefreeness and of a mindset that they have an abundant amount of time in which to do whatever they do choose to do! I sadly do not have that luxury. Time seems to be the one thing I cannot get enough of.

So for me is it healthy to think about the what ifs? I believe it is, to a point you can’t ever change what fate has served up for you, but you can reprogram your life to live it the best way for you! I try to live in the moment each day, to never take things for granted and to find the beauty in every situation good or bad! And if I’m having a bad day and I get a little down and start to wonder about what might have been, I just allow myself to feel those feelings for a short time and then I plug right back into my life and how amazing and utterly unique it has been thus far! Everyone is allowed to fall down, right? I’m more concerned with what I am going to do after I get back up!

Image Credits: Amiee Gietzen

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