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How Living With Chronic Illness Has Helped Me Feel Gratitude

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Living a life with chronic illness is no easy feat. In combination with physical pain and brain fog, I have faced a manifold of painful emotions: grief, anxiety, depression, jealousy, and regret, to name a few. On the other hand, one of the unexpected emotions through my chronic illness journey has been gratitude.

There are so many things in my life I am grateful for. While I can’t honestly say I am grateful for my autoimmune conditions, chronic pain, or anxiety issues, I am indeed thankful for the lessons I have learned in my chronic illness journey.

I have learned to be thankful for all the things my friends and family have done for me over the years. They listen, they love me, and they are always willing to help me in any way they can. My loved ones never question my symptoms; they always believe me. That in and of itself is truly a miracle to me.

Furthermore, I have learned to be grateful for the ability to work. There have been times throughout my health journey where I haven’t been able to work. Right now, I am able to work a part-time job, with accommodations. Working 14 hours a week is much more exhausting now than it was to work 40 hours a week before I became ill. So, days where I am able to go to work bring me so much gratitude.

Subsequently, I am grateful for healthcare professionals in my life who take the time to listen and validate my concerns. Going to the doctor, urgent care, or the hospital can be so stressful, because I am never quite sure how I will be received by the medical staff. There are so many medical professionals who have treated me with utmost dignity during dark times, and I’m always so thankful for those individuals.

I have also felt so much gratitude for technology; connecting with other spoonies from all over the world because of the Internet is incredibly rewarding. These friendships are invaluable to me; it is so helpful to talk to people who can truly empathize with chronic illness. I can’t imagine how much harder this journey would be without my fellow spoonies.

I could go on forever about all of the things I am grateful for in my life… but the point is, my levels of gratitude have significantly increased since I became ill nearly seven years ago. The thing is, gratitude feels good. It fills me, it strengthens me, it helps ground me on days where life feels otherwise bleak. And gratitude for all the good in my life propels me to extend kindness to others.

Again, I would never choose a life of chronic illness; it chose me. So, I’ll take the abilities I am left with and do my best to express gratitude to God and my loved ones, every day.

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Thinkstock image by Creative-Family

Originally published: November 18, 2017
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