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17 Badass Things People With Chronic Illness Do

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Living with a chronic illness (or several) and facing constant obstacles with your health can be incredibly challenging. Between enduring countless procedures and surgeries, experiencing numerous symptoms and high levels of pain, and feeling like human pin cushions when it comes to IVs and blood draws, chronic warriors face a lot of gnarly stuff.

But this is only one of the reasons why people with chronic illness are so badass. To be totally honest, chronic illness sucks – and it can take every ounce of your courage and strength some days just to carry on and keep living your life.

Whether you ran a marathon, gave yourself an injection, created a work of art or moved from your bed to your couch today, you did it while battling chronic illness, and that’s pretty badass.

To shine a light on the strength and perseverance of chronic warriors, we asked our Mighty community to share something “badass” they do. Big or small, every victory deserves to be celebrated. To everyone out there dealing with chronic illness on top of everyday life, you’re doing great. Keep on kickin’ ass.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. Get Up

Get out of bed. Every day. Even the bad days, I get up. Even if I just transfer to the couch or recliner, I get out of bed.” – Priscilla G.

Getting up every day to look after my family even when my body is screaming at me!” – Pixie Q.

2. Create

I still finger paint even though I can’t hold a brush anymore.” – Suswati B.

I draw mandalas. It keeps me busy since I’m not allowed to have a job and it is relaxing and fun to do.” – Danielle P.

When I’m well enough, I sew and make my own cosplay costumes to wear to conventions, but I haven’t been well enough to sew or comfortably attend a con for about two years now… slowly trying to make a simple but new one for the summer though!” – Samantha A.

I model and do hair and makeup when I can, which isn’t often so I enjoy it more when I get to.” – Natascha L.

I paint. A canvas gives me the freedom my body does not have.” – Christina B.

3. Relocate Joints

When my joints dislocate at work I relocate them in front of everyone without screaming. Scares the pants off my co-workers.” – Elizabeth S.

Carry on with my day despite dislocations. When I was working and my knee would pop out, I’d pop it back in, strap it, get the crutches out and carry on.” – Gemma C.

Putting my ribs back in the right spot when they get dislocated or subluxated.” – Jessica S.

4. Be Honest

The most badass thing I can do is dare to be real about what’s happening in my life as I heal from an acute flare of chronic illness. I blog about it, contribute stories to The Mighty and paint my experiences. Over time, I’ve come to realize there’s strength in vulnerability. Authenticity is an incredibly badass way to live your life when it’s not always pretty and perfect. But I now cherish the people who have come into my life ever since I intentionally chose to be real about my health conditions. Once I came to the place of realizing there is nothing wrong with me because I live with illness, then I began to let go of the judgments of others and allow myself to simply be who I am!” – Heather T.

5. Be a Parent/Caretaker

I am a mom to two wonderful teenage boys. My oldest son is 17 and has cerebral palsy and he cannot walk so he uses a power wheelchair. I have to do everything for him pretty much. It’s hard, really hard, but I do it. Even with six chronic illnesses. People ask me all the time how I do it. I honestly don’t know. It’s a mother’s love and determination.” – Sheri P.

“[I] work full-time and raise three kids on my own.” – Melanie C.

I help take care of my husband and our son who both had four brain surgeries each. I, myself, have numerous medical complications.” – Melissa K.H.

6. Pick Up New Hobbies

I crochet. Taught myself through YouTube.” – Acadia M.

Learning to play bass at 39 left-handed and never held a guitar in my life.” – Naomi V.

I developed a meditation practice through excruciating pain and nausea, and can sit and meditate for hours now. It doesn’t get rid of the pain but it helps in every other aspect of my life. Best thing I ever did.” – Jennifer R.

7. Rock a Bald Head

I rock a bald head like a boss. Fifteen brain surgeries survivor.” – Tierra S.

8. Work With Animals

I work with animals. I had a completely different goal in life before my medical issues took over. When my body started falling apart, animals saved me, and they have become my passion.” – Sarah B.

I still train and show my dogs, sometimes show other people’s dogs and I am studying in the third year, of my BSc (Hons) Environmental Conservation. Even though it is painful for me and can be a major sensory overload, I love spending time with them as they love me no matter what.” – Rebecca B.

I foster hearing dogs in training.” – Kelly M.M.

9. Tolerate Pain

I don’t let the dentist freeze me when he has to drill my teeth because I don’t mind the pain and the freezing makes my face ache for a week. Actually, any acute pain is OK because, unlike my chronic pain, it goes away, so I know I can take it like a badass.” – Tara S.H.

My ‘superpower’ is having a very high pain tolerance thanks to chronic conditions. I once had a doctor ask me how I handled the pain. He had seen grown men pass out from the procedure I has having done.” – Blynda K.

“I have had many painful procedures done with no anesthesia: liver biopsies, bone marrow aspirations, ear tube placements…” – Jen S.

I can get blood draws, get IVs or sit for a two-hour tattoo with ease.” – Elizabeth J.

10. Advocate for Yourself

I fight. After 15 years of fighting an undiagnosed illness, I have gotten pretty darn good at advocating for myself!” – Kathy A.

11. Go to School/Work

I am still a certified nurse aide. I still help others as much as possible. Whether it’s cleaning their house or changing their brief. I still love to help.” – Metea M.

I think going to work every day when you’ve got chronic pain and not letting people know you’re in pain is pretty badass.” – Malina M.

Go to school to be a therapist so I can specialize in providing relatable therapy to those with disabilities.” – Hunter H.

Work full-time, even though my body is racked with pain and I feel like crap every day.” – Melanie M.

12. Raise Awareness

I run a Facebook page and group. Hoping to raise awareness around living with chronic illness, while supporting others that also have chronic and mental illness. It helps me to help others.” – Carly W.

I represent the ankylosing spondylitis community through my advocacy (writing, speaking, political activism, etc.).” – Charis H.

13. Partake in Physical Activities

I play competitive beach volleyball as a giant middle finger to lupus and the treatments that go with it. I am not as strong or as fast as I used to be, but there is a sense of satisfaction that comes along with still being able to play.” – Nicole M.

I zipline [for my mental health]. It hurts because I hurt, but I freaking love it and I love having fun and getting out when at all possible and when my body will let me. It is good for the mind, and that is at least half the battle to feeling good.” – Tonya W.

14. Volunteer

I’m a volunteer EMT. Even when I’m having a bad day, someone else out there is having it worse than me. It takes my mind off the pain to help someone else in need.” – Ashley H.

15. Give Yourself Shots/Injections

I have bruises and damaged muscles in my legs from jabbing myself with over 50 Epi-pens and syringes.” – Allison B.

I put needles into my own body multiple times a week.” – Cat L.

Stab myself in the chest weekly, a.k.a. access my own port.” – Sarah F.

“Five shots a day like a boss, baby!” – Bailey S.

I’ve drawn my own blood, given myself IV infusions and shots, packed incisions, done dressing changes… sometimes I feel like my very own doctor. I think anyone with chronic pain or illness is pretty badass. Just surviving and getting out of bed every day can be a battle.” – Jen S.

16. Smile

“I smile.” – Karen R.

“I can smile and be cheerful through anything my pain throws at me. Never let them see you sweat.” – Tara S.H.

17. Keep Going

Wake up every single day. Life isn’t guaranteed.” – Leigh B.

Get up every day and know it could be a good or bad day. I’ll keep going the best I can no matter what.” – Dawn G.

“I live!” – Jenna J.

Originally published: April 6, 2018
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