The Mighty Logo

7 Lessons for Recovering Your Spirit After a Health Crisis

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

When you become “chronically ill,” everything changes. You need to change your habits, drop hobbies and get used to this body that is not the same anymore.

But you know the biggest repercussion is not in your body. It’s not in your kidneys, in your lungs, or in your liver like the doctors are saying. It’s something more important to you, but sometimes your doctors and even your family forget.

When I got sick, I was only 17 and I was a happy teenager enjoying my life and falling in love for the first time. I had friends and a beautiful family who supported me in any decision, I really couldn’t ask for more.

But when everything started, a little bit of me just turned off. I imagine myself like a string of Christmas lights that suddenly start failing and consequently turning off. Every light is a part of me; my dreams and my beliefs.

It’s my spirit.

Your spirit is who you are. It’s the person that you have become after all these years as a result of your experiences. But you never had an experience like this before and you may feel this is the worst that could ever happen to you, so obviously this experience will affect you in a way you can’t even imagine.

Every time I have to fight to stand up and keep going, or that I survive a horrible flare, I feel
another light disappearing. They go away with all the energy I have to give to living, every day.

It’s been 15 years since my first light turned off and after that, this long fight had made dozens
of lights follow the same destiny.

But lately, I figured something out.

Some lights are back.

I notice that these experiences are not making me lose parts of myself, they are only changing me.

Some lights have even brighter colors.

Crises in your life, not only a health crisis, but also the death of someone you love, a big breakup, or whatever personally affects you in an unmeasurable way, are inevitably going to change you, forever. But luckily I’ve found that some good things can be taken from those experiences.

On my way to finding the good side of a crisis, I discovered that I should understand, and never forget, some lessons that were really helpful in this process, and I would like to share them today.

1. You are still you.

I realized that no matter how many lights are turning off or how many different colors are in my string, I am still here. Everybody is mutating during their lives, whatever happens. Every experience of your life will make you change, for good or bad.  So at the end, we are all beautiful multicolor strings.

2. Good things are still happening.

Probably, there will be some moments when you feel that things couldn’t be worse. I’ve been there. But with time, I noticed that good things were happening at that same exact moment. In my case, I was receiving so much love from the world that now I believe definitely helped me heal. My family was always there holding my hand, my friends were always there giving me better days, my colleagues were sending me their good energies, and even people that I don’t know that well were sending me
beautiful words. I was full of love. I felt proud of the ties I built for years and that in my hard moments gave me a shield of love from the world.

3. You can put the pieces back.

You’ll feel like this is the end of the world. That you are falling apart. But what I discovered is that I could put the pieces back or find new ones and continue, even stronger than before. I rebuilt myself into a better person, who knows real pain and now gives more value to the small things in life that are really important. Now the pieces really fit.

4. You can start again.

Probably because of this crisis, you are leaving tons of things behind. Maybe you can’t even have the same job or practice the same sport — but you can start again. You already built your life once, and you can do it again. It might be different, but you can make it good, even better. I was a speech and language therapist in Chile, now I’m writer-in-training in London and probably next month I’ll be something else. My life couldn’t have changed more and I love it.

5. You have a new opportunity. 

We always have our reservations about the life we are having. “What if” is a big question for most of the people. Well, here is the answer for your “what if.” If you were not comfortable before with what you did with your life, you have a new opportunity to take the decisions you think that will guide you to happiness.

6. You are strong(er).

Probably you felt sometimes that you were losing the battle. It may have taken you a long time to heal, but you did it! And you did it because you are strong, and after this you are even stronger. This definitely showed me how much I can handle, and that is a lot. After this, I feel invincible and I am ready for what life has prepared for me.

7. You are willing to live.

But the biggest lesson that all this gave me, with no doubt, is that I want to be alive. All my life I never stopped to think how much I love to be alive, but now that I have felt life slipping through my fingers, I don’t want to let it go! I know that is not entirely my decision, so besides of taking care of myself, I am going to enjoy life and make every day count.

I still have a long way on this journey and I really hope that is a very long one. These lessons will help me to face the future stronger. I only hope to keep learning and growing every day and being a better person, for me and for everyone.

This blog was originally published on Chronic Survivor.

Originally published: September 2, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home