Is It Possible to Have Your Passions Be the Driving Force of Your Life When You Have Chronic Illnesses?


Passion. It’s defined as a strong and barely controllable emotion. Plenty of public figures have weighed in about finding, chasing and making sure your passions are at the center of your life. Oprah Winfrey has said that “passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” There are self-help books, podcasts, blogs and other forms of media that center on discovering what ignites you and incorporating these passions into your everyday life.

Generally, thinking about and pursuing our passions is filled with excitement and good vibes. It can be enthralling to daydream about our dream job, achieving a long-term goal, or simply carving out time to do something that makes us smile. But what happens when your health isn’t in tip-top shape and you’re struggling to keep your head above water?

Speaking from personal experience as a person with chronic illnesses (read: Lyme disease and co-infections, Hashimoto’s, anxiety, depression, among others), having impaired health can create obstacles in pursuing passions. For instance, my illnesses cause the following symptoms: lack of energy, unstable moods, chronic pain, reduced cognitive abilities and a general sense of not feeling well, to list a few.

All of these symptoms can make it difficult to pursue goals and passions in a timely fashion, as much of my time is spent taking care of myself or maintaining my health. Additionally, having chronic illnesses can be costly, so money that could be spent on sessions with life coaches, workshops, equipment or anything else spent on my passions goes toward organic food, supplements, doctor’s appointments, etc.

This begs the following question: Is it still possible to have your passions be the driving force of your everyday life when you have chronic illnesses? My answer: Yes, but it may look different.

Adjust your mentality/manage your expectations.

I’m the first to admit that being more flexible with expectations of myself hasn’t been easy. I am a 100% Italian from New York. I was raised by go-getters. I am Type A. I am a perfectionist. All things that played a role in my health issues, to be honest. But there is no way I can progress through life like I did pre-illnesses and have these qualities take the steering wheel.

I can’t pull all-nighters, I can’t juggle three jobs at once, and trying to be perfect at every facet of my life does nothing but hurt me. As a result, I’ve changed aspects of my life. I am more of a burst worker. When I have a string of good days I throw myself into projects and tasks. Conversely, when I have a string of bad days, I try to be patient and accept that I need to slow down. If I try to force myself past my limits, this prolongs my healing period.

Mentality also plays a huge role here. I have to accept I am a different person than I once was. I don’t have to love that fact every single day, but if I am constantly working against myself and trying to force myself to be someone I’m not, then I won’t even have time to pursue any of my passions; I’ll just be at war with myself in my head.

Find new passions and rediscover old ones.

My main interests used to be eating and cooking unhealthy food, drinking and staying out late and high-intensity sports and workouts. After I got sick, most of these passions had to fall by the wayside, but this made room for so many others that were healthier and more productive.

Now, my passions are health and wellness and helping others heal. I care about the environment and humankind. I’ve found my way back to being a true empath and connecting with others on a deeper level. As I continue to heal, I’ve created time to fall back in love with playing music, exploring the outdoors, and consuming information any way I can (read: books, documentaries, podcasts, etc.).

If I never got sick I wouldn’t have a passion for health and wellness as strongly as I do. I wouldn’t have started an Instagram account and blog to use my voice to help others, and I wouldn’t have become such an advocate for patient empowerment and alternative medicine.

In fact, I thank my illnesses for making this possible. Do I think positively about my situation every day? No. But does it help to take the “lemons” I’ve been handed and make the most of my situation? You bet.

Break tasks down into “digestible” tasks.

I think this suggestion would help anyone chasing their passions, but it’s especially helpful for those with chronic illnesses. For example, trying to write a book if writing is your passion is a lofty goal, but if you reframe it as write five pages every day or a chapter a week, it won’t seem as overwhelming.

This way, you can still feel a sense of accomplishment while taking smaller steps toward your goal one day at a time. Sure, it might take you longer to say you finally reached the top of the “mountain,” but you’ll probably better maintain your health and sanity this way, so what do you have to lose?

Ask for help when you need it.

Last but not least, create a support system that can help you during your times of need. For instance, when I’m feeling overwhelmed my parents will help cook food for me so I can focus my time on finishing up a blog post or going to a volunteer event. It’s okay to lean on others when we not capable of doing something ourselves, especially if it will free up space to do things that make us happy and charged up.

So what do you think? Has having a chronic illness changed how you pursue your passions?

This story originally appeared on Chronicles of Yoolie.

Getty image by hakkiarslan.


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


Related to Lyme Disease

woman wearing glasses and lying in a hospital bed under a blanket

My Lyme Disease Journey – Told Through the Lens of Three Lyme Awareness Months

May 2016. May 2017. May 2018. For the past three years, May has been not only another one of the 12 months, but the most intense and difficult month of the year, one that has carried with it a violent rush of emotions and events. I’ve decided to kick off this Lyme Awareness Month by telling my [...]
cdc's tweet asking to spot the ticks on a poppyseed muffin

7 Things You Should Keep in Mind If You Were Disgusted by That Poppyseed Muffin Tweet

Lately, on social media I have been seeing a lot of shared articles from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that consisted of a warning to the general public. It showed a poppyseed muffin, and the caption asking if viewers could spot the five ticks that could cause Lyme disease. Ticks can be the size [...]
watercolor painting of a woman's eye with flowers next to it

11 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness

These are things I wish I knew when I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I hope the wisdom I gained while on this journey can help others. I remind myself of the following when having a rough day: 1. You are enough. Even if you can’t get out of bed. Even if you can’t do [...]
woman sitting in a hospital bed, and a port in a woman's chest connected to an IV

18 Symptoms of Lyme Disease – as Shown in Photos

Although many people may experience similar symptoms, Lyme disease looks different for everyone. Whether you’re battling largely “invisible” symptoms, such as pain or fatigue, or something more apparent, like rashes or hair loss, these symptoms can often manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the individual and their unique health situation, and result in [...]