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10 Things I've Learned Not to Do as Someone With Chronic Illness and Pain

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My own battle with depression and suicidal thoughts inspired me to write this piece. It’s not easy to live a life filled with daily pain and solitude. It starts to make you question not only your sanity but also your purpose. I felt that I had no purpose or was of no use to anyone. A lot of times I would get so down on myself that I would stop taking care of my health needs. I hope that by sharing just some of the things that got me through this darkness, it would help maybe just one person going through something similar. You’re never alone in your struggling, even if you’re alone.

1. Never let anyone tell you that your problems aren’t real or that they’re all in your head. This happens to us often. Family members and friends are guilty of it. Even doctors that cannot reach the correct diagnosis will do this to us because we scare them. It proves that they are human, too.

2. Never stop advocating for yourself. When you give up, it’s over. Everything around you falls apart and the pain is that much worse.

3. Never take your caregiver for granted. This is the person in your life who is there for you every day. The person that has seen you at your best and your very worst. They will do anything for you so you should do anything within your power for them.

4. Stop blaming yourself for your shortcomings. Your illness may make it hard or even impossible to do certain things that you once were able to do, but placing blame or shame on yourself because of it only causes depression. Know your worth and live each day to the best of your ability.

5. Stop pushing people away. You may find yourself isolated and lonely and start to think you don’t deserve love, romance, friendship etc. None of that is true. You deserve all that life has to offer. You are still a vibrant and beautiful person with much to give.

6. Never give up on dreams of the future just because your diagnosis is scary. You start to think you will never get to do this, or go there, or see that. Stop this kind of destructive thinking. It will only make you feel like the disease has already won. You’re still here and you’re still fighting as long as you have breath.

7. Never ever keep thoughts and feelings of suicide to yourself. If you feel or think about hurting yourself, report those feelings immediately. There is no shame in having depression with chronic illness and pain. The two are often seen together.

8. Stop trying to do everything. Learn how to say no. Choose what you can do and do it and let the rest go. When we push ourselves too hard we pay for it dearly later.

9. Never lose sight of who you are. Your illness is a part of you but it doesn’t define you.

10. Never be afraid to speak your mind. If you do not agree with what your doctor is recommending or prescribing, respectfully speak up. You know your body and illness better than anyone and you have the right to be a partner in your own health care.

Image via contributor

Originally published: September 9, 2016
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