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34 Talents of People With Chronic Illness

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Having a chronic illness can certainly have an effect on your capabilities and may even lead you to grieve the parts of you that have changed. But even though it may bring about limitations, our community likes to (rightfully) remind us how illness can also open new doors and provide opportunities for growth. So instead of focusing on what you can’t do because of illness, why not take a few moments to reflect on what you can do? The skill set of someone who is sick may look different than that of someone who is healthy, but it’s definitely not any less impressive.

To highlight the strengths of some pretty incredible people, we asked our Mighty community to share some of the talents or skills they’ve developed because of their chronic illnesses. What have talents or skills have you learned as a result of your illness? Let us know in the comments below!


Here’s what the community shared with us:

1. “Doing medical research has been a valuable skill. Who knew my English degree requirements of researching literature and secondary research would come in handy regarding my health?”

2. “I’ve learned how to make awesome but simple meals. Due to diet restrictions with both my husband and I having Crohn’s disease, we can’t eat out much and can’t eat processed foods. I learned how to make food that tastes good with short ingredient lists. Due to the cost of healthcare, I also learned how to do it all on a very limited budget.”

3. “Being kind to myself. I have always been extremely hard on myself. I was double majoring with a 4.0 and a great internship before a brain injury and chronic illness took over. It forced me to take a break from those things. I had to learn to show myself forgiveness and find new ways to define myself.”

4. “Mastery of makeup. Putting ‘the mask’ on helps people believe ‘I’m fine.’”

5. “I have pursued art again to distract myself from chronic pain. Since I can’t work, this is a good way for me to do something as a positive outlet with my time.”

6. “I’ve become a much more empathetic person. I just give everyone the benefit of the doubt now. If someone is speeding or driving erratically, they might have an emergency and are on their way to hospital. If they’re walking slowly, they may be dizzy and off balance. You just never know.”

7. “Acting. I deserve an Oscar for Best Performance for being able to act fine all day.”

8. “I have learned to accept when anything is too much. I used to overdo it all the time until right before I got my diagnosis. I forced myself to take it easy after finding out I had a chronic illness (several, actually) and I learned how much self-care can do for me. Now I know to pace myself and when to stop if I’m getting to my physical or mental breaking point. I know now that self-care should be at the top of my priorities list.”

9. “Crocheting. I needed a creative hobby I could do while barely moving.”

10. “Service dog training. If I’d never gotten disabled, I wouldn’t have learned how to train a service dog for myself to help manage my condition. Now I’m hoping to use that skill to help others like me.”

11. “Sense of humor. I get through my dark, painful, scary moments with wit, sarcasm and memes.”

12. “Because of my illness I started a nonprofit. Without being sick I would have never taken the time to give to others in the way I feel compelled to do now.”

13. “I can scope out any restaurant/fast food place that does delivery and get a copy of their menu. Chinese, pizza, burgers, pasta, you name it, and I will find it! I’ve actually had people message me on more than one occasion asking for menus – I’m practically a celebrity.”

14. “How to pace myself. Not easy for a go, go, go kinda gal.”

15. “I can use physics to find the option that allows me to use the least amount of energy or effort. This can be applied to cleaning, showering, cooking, getting dressed or other daily activities. It’s all about leverage and angles.”

16. “Super senses: hearing, smelling and tasting. Also, super sensitive to light, but sunglasses help with that.”

17. “I’m pretty much a walking encyclopedia of drug side effects and medical symptoms.”


18. “I am unbelievably patient with things, most likely from waiting forever for the doctor.”

19. “I handle the medical system like a boss. Often I spend my entire day on the phone arguing with medical insurance, prescription insurance, pharmaceutical company ‘patient assistance programs,’ billing departments, medical assistants, nurses, doctors, pharmacies – and anyone else standing in between me and the drugs/care I need. I have learned how to advocate for myself and I am fierce.”

20. “Bending down is tough for me and my hands have trouble grasping things, so I’m an expert at picking things up with my toes like a monkey!”

21. “New learned form of self-defense: I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, so my joints dislocate fairly frequently. Due to this I’ve learned how to dislocate and relocate joints on other people. I’ve had to use these skills to prevent an attack before and am very thankful for it.”

22. “Picking which battles to fight.”

23. “My back is a better weather predictor than any meteorologist out there.”

24. “I have huge strength and persistence in difficult situations, whether they are from my illness, school or friendship. I am not afraid to take on a challenge because I am used to working hard without a choice.”

25. “I always had a thing for writing, but during the hard times of dealing with my mental illness my creativity juices started flowing and I was able to express myself on paper far better than explaining in person. Plus writing is a great coping skill!!”

26. “Best skill I have learned so far? What is a true priority. I have honed in on the ability to really know what needs to be a priority.”

27. “Relaxing… allowing myself to watch TV series and understanding that I need rest.”

28. “I’m an artist. Before I got sick with several chronic illnesses, I studied art in college. But I put it all ‘on the shelf’ to be a stay-at-home mommy. Then I got sick, and year by year, my health got worse. But I did my best to be the kind of mother I wanted to be. When my kids got older and needed me less, I dusted off my art supplies and learned everything I could. I have found that painting is a great distraction from the pain. There are days I hurt to much and I’m just too tired to paint. But on my ‘better’ days, it brings me joy and helps me get through another day.”

29. “I can accomplish almost every single task from the comfort of my bed – this one took a lot of practice, so I make sure to keep up with my daily training.”

30. “I know my way around cities I’ve never lived in because I’ve traveled to different doctors in these places.”

31. “Allergy-friendly baking. When I went gluten-free six years ago I started making my own recipes. I’m now well-versed in gluten-free and vegan baking, and have become known in my community as someone to turn to for baking/cooking tips or gluten-free advice.”

32. “I’m the most creatively frugal person I’ve ever met. Through years of waiting for Social Security and now trying to make ends meet on what miserly benefits I do get, I’ve learned to squeeze every last penny out of my budget.”

33. “Delegating. I was never able to do so, couldn’t figure out how. Now I’m uber talented at it.”

34. “Being compassionate to everyone. Knowing what you live with and keep silent about makes it easy to imagine how someone else might be dealing with major issues of their own without showing it.”

Thinkstock photo via Olarty.

34 Talents of People With Chronic Illness
Originally published: July 21, 2017
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