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How I Maintain a Positive Attitude When Chronic Illness Is Wearing Me Down

When you have a chronic illness that affects every part of your life, you don’t just have to manage your physical health. Right now, my chronic physical illnesses are also taking a toll on my mind. It feels like I’m trying to keep my physical body together with duct tape and safety pins lately, and I’m just feeling mentally exhausted. I find that I’m constantly asking the universe, can’t I have a week without an IV infusion and a reminder of my blown veins? Can’t I stay away from hospitals, and cancer centers, and doctor appointments, and IR rooms, just for a little while? Can I take a break from the meds? Can I put down the backpack that holds my feeding pump? Can I go outside without a hat and sunscreen and long sleeves and fear of the sun? Can I get a lab panel back that shows a healthy, happy body for once? Can I ignore the calls from the insurance company about things they refuse to cover? Can I eat a meal without the pain and nausea and tears that always follow?

The answer is no to all of these questions, and I know this. I have to keep my body going with these sometimes ridiculous measures; it’s my job right now. So I do things throughout the day to try and keep my spirits up. Some days I’m more successful than others. But I have to keep my hope that things will improve, otherwise I’d just fall apart entirely.

– Every day, I take time to write down the things in my life I’m grateful for. No matter how miserable I feel, there is always something good in my day. I write these things down, along with the people, things and aspects of my life that bring me joy, comfort and reasons to keep going. It really helps and puts into perspective all the good things that can overshadow the not-so-good if I choose to see life that way.

– I give myself pep talks. I tell myself: “I got this.” “I’ve done this before, I’ll do it again.” “I’ve survived every day until now, and I’m gonna make it through today.” “Pain is temporary, and the mind can’t actually remember pain, so once it passes, I’ll be OK.” It’s lots of positive affirmations, lots of cheering myself on to keep going.

– I am patient with myself. I set a few goals, and try to accomplish them. If I don’t, that’s OK. I give myself grace, and I plan to get them done when I’m feeling up to it.

– I color, play guitar, doodle positive quotes, sing, blast music. Any activity that will bring me some happiness.

– I talk to people who can help lift my spirits when I’m unable to do so myself. I have a couple amazingly supportive people in my life, and for that I am so grateful.

Every day I wake up in a decent amount of discomfort and I am reminded of the struggle my body is enduring. Every day is a continuation of this fight that doesn’t seem to have an end date. But every day I also get up, make my bed and tell myself I’m gonna make it and whatever the day throws at me, I’m going to be OK.

Getty Image by Victor_Tongdee