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What I'm Thinking About This New Year's as a Chronic Illness Warrior

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Three, two, one… Happy New Year! You look around the room and everyone is smiling, laughing, kissing and blissful. It feels like in that moment the world pauses. Everything comes to a complete stop waiting for the final countdown of the year. One of the few moments in life where time feels still. Some people worry about who they will be kissing, where they will be celebrating, what they will be wearing or even what they will be drinking.

Ringing in the new year with a chronic illness has some similarities but makes you question your life more than ever. I’d like to share my three main thoughts on New Year’s as an autoimmune disease warrior; I am sure many of you can relate.

1. It’s already been another year… Another year sick, another year spent with doctors, waiting in offices, worried and still not far along enough on this path I’m on. It’s another year of being poked, scanned, biopsied and prodded at. Most of all, another year I’m still not “better” (even though there is no cure to my illness) and I’m still in so much pain.

2. What have I accomplished? Living with a chronic illness comes with a cost, a high one. It means that no matter what you do your illness ends up interfering in your life, causing you to feel two steps forward and one step back. Maybe I could move or try something new and exciting?  I would like to have reached farther in my career, not had so many sick days. I dream of making a difference in the world. And I feel like I get a huge smack in the face from reality saying you just missed 365 opportunities where you could have made a difference in the world we live in today.

3. My actual life is on pause. I mean a complete standstill and not going anywhere anytime soon. There are so many ways my life is on pause and I’m not sure which one hurts the most. It could be mostly the whole having children battle. Truth be told, I’m not even sure if I could,
definitely wouldn’t recommended by the doctor and on my medication, it simply cannot happen. I see so many friends on their first, second or third child. I am still at zero. Since I’ve gotten married the only thing that has changed is my sickness has gotten worse. In return, it seems as if my personal relationships have not gotten better, just stale. I stay home as much as possible and become less social because of pain. I want to press the play button and not be stuck anymore.

I know this might sound extremely negative and I’m not practicing being “positive” like many people suggest I do. But I’d rather be honest. Honest with myself and those around me. I do plan to change for the better in this new year. But I won’t make a ridiculous amount of promises just to let myself down. I simply want to say I will be better. Anything past that will just simply be a plus. I plan on becoming the best version of me possible. I will put myself and my health first. I will do my very best to look at life in a different way. I might not share the same New Year’s resolutions like other people, and that’s OK! But one thing I will not stop doing is fighting.

The one thing I will feel this new year throughout all my fears and anxieties is grateful. I am truly grateful I’m still here. I’m grateful – life has chewed me up, spit me back out and I still find courage to get up and fight again. I’m learning to be strong. I’m learning more about my illnesses, I’m learning what truly matters the most in life and I’m learning more about who I am. To practice being positive: 2018 will be the year we all become stronger.

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Photo via Nevena1987 on Getty Images

Originally published: December 29, 2017
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