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10 Reasons I Love My Chronic Illness

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I love my chronic illness. Before you think this is odd, I can assure you things weren’t always this way. For years I hated my body because it couldn’t do what I wanted it to do, what I needed it to do. I was angry that I couldn’t be like everyone else my age.

It goes without saying that chronic illness gets in the way of your plans. I’ve had to give up my dream career. I’ve had to cancel a once in a lifetime trip to Europe last minute. I’ve lost friends because my illness was an inconvenience to them. I’ve spent many weekends in bed while roommates were partying.

This past year I’ve embraced my battered body and decided to listen instead. Turns out, she has a lot of wisdom to share! Here are some things I learned that led me to love my chronic illness:

1. I became more flexible. Anyone with a chronic illness knows that it’s a constant struggle to balance your body’s needs versus pushing through to accomplish your goals. Some days your plans to take on the world need to be rescheduled. Or cancelled completely.

2. I discovered some superhuman qualities. You never know that you can survive a four day conference consisting of 17 hour days and hosting important guests, while pushing through full-body pain, nausea, extreme fatigue, overwork, over-socialization, and doing manual labor…until you do. It’s times like these that you discover how strong you are.

3. I am always prepared. Your bag becomes a home to painkillers, antiemetic, heating pads, tissues, KT tape, essential oil, herbs, arnica gel, digestive enzymes, small dogs…OK, the last one is a dream, but wouldn’t it be great?

4. I enjoy the little things. The simplest things bring me joy. A beautiful sunset. Having the strength to cook. Getting out to see friends.

5. I learned what I truly love. It’s always important to give your body rest, but sometimes it’s worth it to push through level eight pain to enjoy a beautiful day in the city. These events are the things you plan your energy around and sacrifice for. These are the memories you’ll have when you’re older.

6. I connected more with myself. My life has gone in directions I never would have believed. I have had to give up what I thought I want and am now focusing on what my body needs, which so happens to be what I actually want. For instance, I am now dipping my toes into freelance, something I would never have the courage to do if I could work a regular 9 to 5 like everyone else.

7. I connected more with my body. Admittedly, I probably wouldn’t take very good care of myself if it weren’t for my illness. A whole foods diet, supplements, plenty of sunshine, water, and rest keep my body in working condition. You also learn your body’s cues more because you need to be more attentive to them.

8. I learned who will support you. Unfortunately invisible illness gets a lot of judgement and unsolicited advice. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard, “Have you tried acupuncture?” (Or something to that effect.) But then there are the people who are really awesome and are willing to learn more. It’s better to stick with those who support you and leave the others behind.

9. I became my best advocate. You know your body and medical history better than your doctor. Of course they went to medical school, but they don’t know what’s normal for you. It is essential that you do your own research. If your doctor doesn’t take you seriously or doesn’t administer the care you deserve, you are more than right to find a doctor who does.

10. I learned to grieve and accept. If only being unable to do something made you no longer want to do it. It’s hard watching your peers out living it up while you’re home with fuzzy socks, herbal tea, and knitting. OK, so that scenario isn’t hard, but it’s more than OK to grieve the things you want, but can’t have. In fact, it’s healthy and encouraged!

Accepting that you’re ill doesn’t mean accepting a life that is less full.

Getty Image by max-kegfire

Originally published: August 20, 2018
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