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5 Things to Remember When You Feel Guilty for Being Ill

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Literally, everyone I know with chronic pain seems to be talking about it. We are comparing oneself to another, it’s poisoning our minds. We are consumed by it in many forms and it’s coming at us in all directions.


It’s dragging us down and it’s holding us back even further than we should be. I know it’s easier said than done when it comes to how we feel and what to do about those feelings. As I write this, I don’t have everything figured out and I will always have my moments of guilt, but I am working very hard at trying to let it go.

It’s OK to feel happy when you’re sick. If that makes people question your illness then that’s their problem and not yours. I say this because we, as people living with chronic pain, are constantly defending our illness. Somehow we feel as though if somebody gets a sneak peek at our moment of happiness then they will think what we fear most – that we are faking being sick. In fact, we are faking being healthy most of the time. We deserve to not feel guilty and rid ourselves of the absolute worst feeling that I believe there is, besides the pain itself.

When you are faced with the torturous all consuming feeling of guilt, remember the following:

1. You did not ask for this disease. Acceptance is the first step to understanding your illness.

2. The right person will stick by your side no matter what. “Put the shoe on the other foot.” Wouldn’t you be there for your family? This is good for weeding out who deserves to be in your life.

3. Your significant other wants to see you happy. Being happy doesn’t mean that you are not sick and that you don’t feel sad about your situation. Being happy isn’t always a choice, coming from someone suffering from depression.

4. Feeling guilty accomplishes nothing.

5. Feeling guilty can actually make us more sick. If we are focused too much on the torture that is guilt, then we are not as focused on positive ways to feel good about ourselves. For example, we may feel too guilty to take a bath when there are dirty dishes in the sink. (I’ve personally been there!) The stress of the guilt is also affecting our bodies, in a major way.

People who have never lived with chronic pain do not understand what we go through on a daily basis and are not going to be able to directly relate to our situation. We have to become comfortable with the fact that it’s OK that they don’t understand, but it’s not OK if they’re not compassionate or empathetic. I say this because we can’t change them.

Even people who understand chronic pain will never fully understand the exact pain that another person is going through. We all feel and perceived pain differently.

Hold on the people who are compassionate about your illness. Let go of those who are not. Then, if you’re like me, you’ll be ready to face your biggest critic – you. It will take practice to try to rein in the guilt.

Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Your body is already at war.

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Originally published: October 27, 2017
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