4 Lessons That Can Help the Chronic Illness Journey Feel a Bit Lighter


Chronic illness can teach excruciating lessons, and I have learned and relearned my own. I’ll share my lessons so that perhaps your journey may be a bit lighter today.

1. Be OK with not being OK. As I have come to realize that this is no short-term trial, I have entered the messy process of grieving. I find moments of denial and anger, and hope for more moments of acceptance. Forcing positivity is not healthy, and it is OK to acknowledge the hard. I’m going to bet that you, my reader, are not a self-pitier and wallower. The fact that you are here and have shown up today, shows that you are a fighter. Trust yourself on the hard days that you have the power to try again tomorrow. Because you have already proven that you can.

2. Be mindful of your body – but don’t judge. During a therapy session, my therapist was trying to get me to process through the idea of purchasing a wheelchair. We both found my avoidance comical, the effort I put in to dance around the emotion was impressive. Finally, I set aside the distracted thoughts. I acknowledged the pain, and focused in on how my body responded. Take time daily to be still and ask your body how it feels – and don’t judge its response. If it hurts, notice the hurt. Acknowledging pain without judgment takes away its emotional control.

3. Don’t hide the pain from your loved ones. Shame and guilt breed isolation. And chronic illness already prescribes that enough. People do not know your pain unless you tell them. They cannot sufficiently support unless they know your needs. Pride wants us to protect people from feeling sorry for us. But that is a dangerous sentiment. Managing chronic illness is not a one man job, and you are too important to give up this fight.

4. Express gratitude. The simplest of practices can be the most fruitful, yet the most difficult to begin. A Google Scholar search will yield a multitude of studies with astounding scientific results of practicing gratitude. Gratitude gives me hope and purpose on the darkest of my days. How you express most meaningfully needs to be a personal journey. But whether you chose to write, speak or think about the good, it needs to be as routine as your daily medications. There is power in this practice.

Acknowledge the hard, have hope for the future and express gratitude in the now. You are worth it.

Getty Image by Peppersmint


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

woman's feet splashing in a puddle on a rainy day

Learning to Dance in the Rain of Chronic Illness

When I was in high school, college and beyond I loved to dance. Anywhere, anytime. Give me a decent beat and the smallest of spaces and you would have found me at the very least doing a little jig. Give me a dance floor and I was in my element. The rhythm of the music carried [...]
17 Things to Consider When Debating Whether to Post About Your Illness on Facebook

17 Things to Consider If You're Debating Whether to Post About Your Illness on Facebook

To post or not to post… Sigh. It’s a thought that may cross our minds several times a day. Should I share this moment with all my family and friends? What will they think? How will they respond?  If you have a chronic illness, deciding whether or not to post about your health can be especially tricky. [...]
A picture of a young woman looking up towards the sky, while playing with her necklace around her neck.

4 Tips on Surviving Chronic Illness in Your 20s

Going through a chronic illness can be life-changing, especially for young adults. Here are four survival tips on living your best life with chronic illness in your 20s: 1. Find Your Tribe Your support system will play a very important role in your chronic illness. They are the ones that have your best interest at heart. [...]
A black and white image of a woman outside, only showing a small portion of her face.

When You Tell Me 'I Don't Know How You Survive'

I have been struggling with various forms of debilitating chronic illness for years, and I’m tired of people telling me things that can easily translate to them saying that I “should die.” I know that’s not what they’re intending to say, when generally well-meaning people tell me something along the lines of, “I don’t know [...]