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Nick Cannon Opens Up About the Guilt We May Feel After an Illness Flare-Up


Not every chronic illness can be significantly improved with diet or exercise. But if your health does improve from lifestyle changes, you might feel pressure to follow your strict regimen every single day, without fail — leading you to blame yourself when you eventually have a flare. Chronic illnesses aren’t always predictable and vary from person to person, and it’s completely normal (and to be expected!) that you might, despite your best efforts, still experience a flare-up every now and again.

But if you’ve ever felt “flare guilt,” you might relate to Nick Cannon, who recently opened up about what his most recent flare-up was like.

Cannon, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2012, shared the exercise and diet plan he follows in an interview published in GQ on Monday. When asked about the last time he didn’t wake up “pain-free,” Cannon said it was a few months ago, “and on those days, I can only blame myself.”

“I’ll be feeling so good that I’ll slack on my regimen a little bit. You know, I’m supposed to drink two gallons of water a day to take my vitamins and my medicine properly,” he said. “I’m supposed to stay on a pretty strict diet. But then when I’m feeling good, I’ll slack off on that stuff.”

He said a couple months ago, he was overworking himself and not drinking enough water, until one day he woke up and couldn’t move.

“It took me about an hour to get out of bed. I knew that was the beginning of a flare-up. So I got my act together and took a rest day,” he said. “I did some meditation, and some yoga, and got back on my hydration game. All the things I should’ve been doing in the first place.”

He clarified that his flare-ups now are different than when he was “at his worst,” when he had to do blood transfusions and chemotherapy.

“I’ve been in those places where I haven’t been well, and those days sucked. Any day I can wake up pain-free is an amazing day,” he said.

Cannon also said he’s learned that stress can make his lupus symptoms flare, so he works to have a “stress-free life” and has found “key people” to surround himself with. He uses meditation apps on his phone around three times a day and sits in silence for the first 30 minutes of his day to clear his mind.

When asked what advice he would give himself in 2012, he replied, “Enjoy every minute, and just do it all with a smile.”

“I remember those days, being in the hospital. We’re so often caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, and in always wanting more, but you realize just how much you take for granted when everything’s taken away from you,” Cannon said. “Be present. Be grateful to wake up each day.”

It can be hard not to feel guilty when you have a flare-up. But it’s important to remember chronic illnesses can be really tough to manage, and you don’t have to beat yourself up if you have a flare. Mighty contributor Elizabeth Auwarter shared what her husband helped her understand when she was blaming herself for “causing” a fibromyalgia flare by eating chocolate:

It’s not my fault. It’s not your fault. Our bodies aren’t “normal.” They won’t react to life normally, and that is OK. We will struggle. It will be harder for us than other people, but that doesn’t mean we failed. It just means we are different. It means we can understand when others are frustrated when life doesn’t make sense because this is our normal. It is OK that we don’t understand completely and that our bodies just don’t make sense sometimes. That is no reason for us to hate ourselves, even torture ourselves to try to find out how to fix it.

When celebrities talk about how they treat their chronic illnesses, we should keep in mind that their situations may be very different than someone else with the same diagnosis. Cannon’s diet and exercise regime may not work for everyone — and you should consult a doctor before thinking of replicating it. His lifestyle and words of advice may also not be possible for someone with fewer resources.

As Mighty editor Paige Wyant wrote about Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds, who recently revealed his illness had improved thanks to similar lifestyle changes, “It’s OK to feel happy for celebrities and simultaneously a bit exasperated with your own battle.”