The Mighty Logo

7 Common 'Mistakes' People Who Are Chronically Ill Make

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Throughout my journey with autoimmune disease, I’ve learned a lot of lessons. While I consider myself healthy today, it took me a long time to get here. I went through a lot of trial and error when I was trying to heal my body and came close to giving up many times. But, once I was able to recognize and correct the mistakes I was making, I began to notice real improvements in my health.

For years it was like I was struggling to ride my bike up a tall hill, only making small progress here and there. And then, very suddenly, I reached the top and soared down the hill making giant leaps in my health at an incredible speed. I felt like I had cracked the code to healing.

So today I want to share with you the seven mistakes I believe not only I made, but many others make when living with a chronic illness.

Mistake #1: Focusing only on your body.

Caring for our physical health can sometimes feel so much easier than caring for our mental and spiritual health because it’s a much more concrete process.

It’s easy to track lab results, weight loss and what you’re eating. But measuring our stress levels, thought patterns and authenticity with our self is much harder. Because of that, we often get carried away with healing just our physical bodies.

But your mental and spiritual health need just as much love and attention. When trying to heal from any disease it’s crucial that you treat your entire self. Your mind, body and spirit. You can’t have a truly healthy body without a healthy mind and spirit.

Mistake #2: Not getting a second opinion.

Getting more than one perspective on your condition is key to ensuring you’re getting the best possible care. Doctors are humans, too. They make mistakes, forget things and are sometimes just flat out bad at their job.

If you don’t agree with your doctor or feel like they’re not listening to you, don’t be afraid to keep looking for a new one! (When I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease I went through about five different doctors before I found one that I loved.)

Personally, I’ve found functional medicine and naturopathic practitioners to be of great help as they are trained in identifying the underlying cause of disease and using natural therapies to facilitate healing.

Unfortunately, shopping around for doctors can be expensive. (Most forms of alternative medicine are not covered by insurance.) That was honestly a big reason why it took me months to start trying out new doctors. But ultimately I came to the conclusion that your health is an investment, not an expense.

Mistake #3: Resisting your diagnosis.

While you don’t have to be happy with your diagnosis, you should never resist it. Getting diagnosed with any illness, disease or condition is difficult and often times life-changing. But when you resist and fight against what is, you’re creating more turbulence in your life. If you can accept your current situation as it is, then you can work with your disease rather than against it.

Accepting your situation doesn’t mean giving up or doing nothing to get healthy. It’s actually quite the opposite.

Accepting your situation means you acknowledge what life has thrown your way and then instead of mentally complaining or wishing things were different, you take action. By doing so, you’ll be able to manage your health more effectively. Not to mention it will be a much more peaceful and valuable journey for you.

Mistake #4: Not listening to your body.

There’s a lot of information out there on what’s considered healthy and unhealthy. But everyone is so incredibly different that what may be healthy for me, may be harmful to you. In short, you know your body better than anyone else.

No matter how healthy and “proven to work” something may be, if it makes you feel bad then don’t force it. And this doesn’t have to just apply to health information you read online. Your doctor may have gone to school for over a decade and maybe even specialized in the particular disease or condition you have. But you are the one experiencing the symptoms, feeling the pain and dealing with the challenges caused by your illness.

If you feel deep down that the treatment recommended by your doctor is wrong for you, speak up! Your body will always tell you if something is right for you or not. All you have to do is listen.

Mistake #5: Putting too much emphasis on diet and supplements.

When I was looking for answers on how I could reverse my autoimmune disease, 99 percent of the information I found was all about diet and supplements. There wasn’t much out there on the importance of mental or spiritual health when healing from chronic illness.

But from my experience, I’ve learned that it’s just as, if not more, important than proper nutrition. Don’t get me wrong though. I think having a healthy diet and taking the right supplements plays a huge role in getting healthy. It’s definitely important and necessary to heal from any disease. But, if you’re eating clean and getting all the proper nutrients and you’re still not seeing results, then it’s time to look elsewhere. Proper nutrition is just one step in the healing journey.

Mistake #6: Not doing your own research.

With the numerous life changes that come with any chronic illness, it’s easy to want to leave all the “medical stuff” up to your doctor. They are the experts after all. But at the end of the day, your health is your responsibility.

You’re the only one who has to live in your body day in and day, out so why put your health in someone else’s hands?

Find a great doctor and work with them. You should always view your doctor as your partner in managing your health. So learn as much as you can about your medical condition. Research online, read books, join forums, come to your appointments prepared and ask questions. Be your own advocate.

Mistake #7: Forgetting to enjoy life.

When you’re struggling with a chronic illness it’s easy to think about how perfect life would be if only you weren’t sick. Often times we put our life on hold and sacrifice a lot of the things we enjoy in order to make healthy choices in the hopes that someday we’ll be cured. But enjoying life is part of healing!

You want to be healthy so that you can enjoy life, but when you enjoy life anyway, you start to heal. It’s OK to have that cheat meal or stay out way past your bedtime every now and then. So starting today, I want you to do at least one thing that makes you happy every single day. It can be as simple as sleeping in or as lavish as getting a massage.

The present moment is all you ever have so stop waiting for someday and enjoy what you have now!

Everyone will create their own unique path to healing. You’ll have successes and failures (probably more failures than successes to be honest). And that’s OK. Even though I feel great today, tomorrow I may have an uphill kind of day. Healing is not a one and done “I’m healthy forever now” type of deal. It’s an ongoing process. I still have to make sure I’m maintaining a healthy lifestyle and always listening to my body. But the important thing to remember is that healing is more about the journey than the destination. So whether you’ve just received a diagnosis yesterday or have been chronically ill for years, embrace where you are right now in your journey to better health!

Follow this journey on Vibe N’ Thrive.

Getty image via Sky_melody

Originally published: February 10, 2019
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