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How to Keep Moving Forward When Life Wants to Get You Down

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The day before Valentine’s day, it was a lung infection and a prescription for an antibiotic I turned out to be allergic to. A week of hives later, there are now four classes of antibiotics I’m allergic to and another I shouldn’t take except in emergencies because of my connective tissue disorder.

It was a month-old flu, that I got in January, that led to that lung infection. Less than a month later, on March 3, I woke up on Saturday morning with what I thought was one of the worst migraines I’d ever had.

Basically, all this leads to me being sick practically all of 2018. Time has flown by, mostly because it has been a fog of illness and new fun symptoms on top of my regular chronic illnesses.

Then, on top of that, after a week of a sinus infection on top of a double ear infection when all I wanted to do was go home and sleep, I blew a flat tire on my way home from school. It had a stripped lugnut, all the mechanics in the tiny city were busy, and it took up a day and a half to get it changed. My head pain was excruciating through all of it.

In my last post, I wrote about acceptance. Accepting my chronic illnesses as part of my life and knowing my body and how it responds to said illnesses is the most important thing I need to do to reach my goals and live a full life with chronic illness. But “muggle illnesses”–something that some chronically ill people call short-term sicknesses that everyone get, like colds and flus and infections, really throw wrenches in the works.

I am a goal-oriented person. Each year, I choose a word that is my goal for the year. I am constantly trying to improve myself in ways big and small. This Lent alone, I made three small goals. And here comes sickness, and all I want to do is lay in bed and feel absolutely miserable and sorry for myself.

So, what’s there to do?

The pace changes when I’m sick. Sometimes, it feels like it nearly stops or at least slows to a crawl: and even that crawl, the crawl of necessary daily duties (parenting, work, keeping the house and one’s personal appearance in some sort of order) seems insurmountable.

On top of that, my big life goals, my husband’s big life goals, so many potential changes in the future, loom and hang. But how can I possibly think about those when the present seems so insurmountable, when I can barely think past the pressure in my sinuses and the pounding in my ears, when the pain won’t stop?

The answer is that one tiny step, the tiniest of steps, is still a step forward.

I have a print on my wall, by my favorite inspirational mental health artist The Latest Kate (who I have written about before) that reads “progress is progress no matter how small.” I try to remember it during these periods of life getting me down on top of everyday chronic illness. Even when it is hard to see, I am still making progress.

picture of a seal with progress quote

Healing is progress. If I wasn’t resting, wasn’t taking care of myself, wasn’t taking my medicine and treating myself well, wasn’t seeing the doctors and doing the other necessary steps I need to do to get better, I would be sicker a lot longer. Yes, this doesn’t feel like progress, but it is. I’m not going to reach any of the goals I want to in the longterm if I don’t do what I need to do to restore my body to the health it is normally at in the shortterm.

Each task I complete every day is progress. It might not seem like it. But it is a step forward. Every day is a new one. It is a day where I have a chance to learn something new and maybe improve myself: but if nothing else, maybe my sinuses will clear up a little bit.

Progress is progress. I might have to take tiny steps towards my goals some days, and they might seem meaningless. But everything means something, and the more I try, despite my struggles, the more I win the battle against the random life events that knock me down.

This story was originally published on Writer Kat.

Originally published: May 3, 2018
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