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When Chronic Illness Totally Changes Your Personality

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We often think our personalities are fixed. It’s something we are born with and grow with as we get older. When I look at my personality before my first chronic illness diagnosis, I see a completely different person.

Once upon a time I was the life of the party, always full of energy, drank frequently, stayed up too late, worked multiple jobs and ate whatever I wanted when I wanted. I took no medications whatsoever. I only went to my PCP for my yearly checkups.Then along came my first diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and over the last couple of years MCAS, Raynaud’s disease, Meniere’s disease. And the list goes on…

There are times I miss parts of the old me, but there are also things I prefer with the new me.

I’ve become an even bigger introvert. Before my diagnoses you would never catch me home on a Friday night, I was loud and outgoing. Socializing now can be very draining; I prefer to relax at home.

I’ve become very health conscious. I used to eat out most of the time, or cook late at night. I thought I could eat anything because I stayed thin. Now I’m on the keto diet and have to watch my carb intake. I’ve learned meditation and yoga to help calm down.

I’m less “fun.” I used to party, I liked frequenting a small bar in my town. I loved staying up late with my friends. I now can’t stay up past 10 p.m. I like low-key activities now, sitting outside on a cool evening or spending time in the garden.

My career does not define me anymore. Most people ask, “What do you do?” when they meet you. My career has always been important to me. I’ve learned my career does not define me, it is not who I am but what I do.

I go with the flow, I used to try to plan every five years, I knew what I wanted and when I wanted it. With any chronic illness you are not guaranteed anything. I listen to my body every day. Some days I can handle a list of chores, but there are some days I can’t get out of bed. I have learned to go slow and to be happy with whatever happens.

I learned what was more important to me. I have learned that money is not everything. It is not as important as your health.

Living with chronic illness changes you. There are those positive aspects and there are those negative ones too. In the end we simply learn to adapt and understand who we are meant to become.

Getty Image by metamorworks

Originally published: July 16, 2018
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