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Even If You Can't Work Due to Illness or Disability, Every One of Us Has a Purpose

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I’ve been thinking a bit lately about how my fibromyalgia has worsened since I was in my teens (even before I had a diagnosis), and I don’t mean to get all philosophical on you, but physical limitations and the inability to hold down a job in recent years have made me question my purpose.

Now, we’ve probably all been there at various times in our lives (chronically ill or not) and it’s not an easy one to answer. What is easily recognizable however (or at least it was to me) was the loss of self-confidence that was connected to my feeling less productive, less useful, less helpful than those around me. Just “less” in general really.

I’m not sure why that is because I’m one of the lucky ones who have always had a lot of support and understanding from loved ones.

One of the reasons, I think, is at least in part due to society’s judgment of those of us on disability benefits in this country (UK). Especially where invisible illnesses are involved. Sadly, there’s a huge amount of prejudice and assumption that we’re trying to con the system. That we look perfectly healthy, so we must be “benefit scroungers.”

Inevitably this is accompanied by the idea that someone who doesn’t have a job is somehow less productive and less valuable to society than the workers around us. I can see how that could appear to be the case, on the surface at least, but it’s 2018 (unless you’re reading this in a different year, of course. Then it isn’t 2018 but I’m fairly confident what I’m saying will still apply) and we need to do better.
We need to look at people as individuals who all have something valuable to offer. I mean, technically, those among us who do volunteer work don’t have an actual job, but those folks are extremely important. They’re extremely productive too.

So, here’s a thought (and please bear with me – it’s late and I have a fibro brain): What if one person’s purpose was to empathize with someone newly diagnosed with the same chronic condition and potentially make that person’s life better by understanding? Or even to save their life by showing them that they were not alone? I’m pretty sure you’d agree that these would be positive contributions to society.

Thinking along those lines then, a chronically ill person has so many possible ways to be productive and valuable within their family, community and society in general.

On a personal level, I think that some of my “useful qualities” are my empathy, patience, open-mindedness, creativity and my capacity to love. I’d like to think that these characteristics have helped people around me over the years. Making a difference to those you care about is not a bad purpose to have in life in my opinion.

So don’t underestimate someone who isn’t able to work, and/or who has certain limitations due to disability and chronic pain. If you have a disability and/or chronic pain, don’t underestimate yourself. We all have limitations, we all have talents and we all certainly have a purpose.

Take a minute to think it over and figure out the ways that you add value to the lives of those around you. Then go and show the world (and maybe even more importantly, yourself) what awesomeness you have to offer!

I know you can do it!‎

Photo by Ionut Coman Photographer on Unsplash

Originally published: July 20, 2018
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