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The Power of Writing Your Own Story as a Chronic Illness Warrior

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I have always loved and been inspired by the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield.

I’ve loved it since I first heard the song on the radio when it originally came out. To this day it is still one of my all-time favorite songs. I have since fallen in love with all her music. That song is the inspiration for me starting a support group on Facebook titled Unwritten Warriors: Surviving With H.O.P.E. (Hero’s Onward Positive Encouragement). No matter what we are going through:

“I am unwritten
Can’t read my mind
I’m undefined
I’m just beginning
The pens in my hand
Ending unplanned”

– Natasha Bedingfield (singer/songwriter)

I used to have hope and be cheerful all the time, but I let my illness write my story for me instead of taking control and writing my own story. Writing this doesn’t help with my fatigue and pain, but it does help some with my depression and anxiety. It gives me hope. Isn’t that’s what we all need? What we all deserve? It helps me feel good enough that maybe I can help not only myself, but someone else too. It helps bring awareness that we all struggle with something. Everyone is different. Every story is different, but we all share a common goal: to survive with hope.

I personally have lupus, fibromyalgia, migraines, anxiety, depression, degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel syndrome and several other conditions. I am joined in several support groups for each one. They all give me something different and help me out in different ways. But I have noticed that sometimes I have to post in many different support groups before finding someone who is experiencing the same thing I am. I feel that if this group is open to anyone, with any illness, then maybe we can help each other more.

I have lost many relationships over my illnesses, and never started others. I have spent my whole life learning how to not talk about how I am truly feeling, afraid I will lose someone I care about or be made fun of (I experienced that a lot as a kid with my stuttering and shyness). I have spent the last 42 years learning how to just say “I am fine” when asked how I am feeling. When a time comes in which I need to be brutally honest, I find it difficult. So when asked how I am feeling or how I spend my day, I find it hard to explain or clarify as I am so used to downplaying my symptoms. I don’t know how to respond.

I am currently fighting for disability. I have no job, no car, no health insurance and sometimes no hope. It is a hard process to go through with any illness. They always want more than you can physically and mentally give. So many times I have felt like giving up, yet I keep fighting. Not just for me but for everyone going through the same thing. I am always so happy when I hear that someone has won their battle with them. I could let it get me down. I could wonder, why them and not me? Sometimes I do let it get to me for a time. In the end though I am so happy that someone else has conquered their fears and pushed on. It gives me hope that one day it will happen for me.

Remember, no matter what life throws at you the pen is still in your hand. I know we all have different things we go through. We have different illnesses and struggles. Some are more severe than others. One thing we do have in common is we can choose to find the joy in life. We can choose to find the positivity. Or we can choose to let the darkness consume us.

Be an Unwritten Warrior. Write your own story. Don’t let anyone try and write it for you. No matter what illness you or someone you care about has, we can all learn from each other

We are all unwritten warriors. Fighting our own battles every day.

How do you choose to write your story?

Jennifer Anderson
Unwritten Warrior: Surviving With H.O.P.E.

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Thinkstock photo via thawornnurak.

Originally published: April 3, 2017
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