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The 3 New Year's Resolutions I'm Making With Chronic Illness

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In closing the chapter on another year, I always find myself reflecting on what has passed, and thinking of what I need to change, or what to implement. I don’t think of a bunch of “New Year’s resolutions” because life with a chronic illness is too unpredictable. You can’t really promise that you’ll go to the gym every day when you never know how you’ll feel in the morning. I use the theme of resolutions as an aid in my reflections.

Motivation is at an all-time high in the beginning of the year with people wanting to change what didn’t work for them. What most of them fail to recognize is that those changes, the things you desperately want to do differently, can happen at any point in your life, not just January 1st. For those of us living with chronic illnesses, we see things differently. We want to make changes desperately and embark on a new year with the same optimism as our healthy friends, but all of our big aspirations have turned a little more realistic. Sometimes all we want is one day. One day where we don’t struggle to get out of bed, where we have no pain, where the simple things aren’t so challenging.

Chronic illnesses teach us that there isn’t much we can control. For me, I’ve learned I can’t control my disease, I can’t control the pain I experience and I can’t control a flare. Nor can I control my depression that comes and goes. I can’t just “snap out of it.” But what I can control are the choices I make to cope through hard times. When bad things happen, I’ve learned to shift my focus, and try my best not to let them bring me down, remembering that through struggle comes understanding. Through struggle comes self-discovery.

So in the new year, I’ll continue to strive for wellness in the best way I know how. I’ll continue to fight, to love (myself above all), to give and to speak out about my struggles, knowing my voice will bring comfort to others.

And in terms of “resolutions”? These are the three things I’m choosing:

I Choose Acceptance.

Acceptance of where I’m at in this moment, and appreciation of where I’ve been. Accepting myself as the beautifully unique, imperfect being I am. Accepting that my illness just is, that it does not define me, it never has, it never will. I’ll remember that I am a fighter and warrior, and that I am so much stronger than I sometimes think.

I Choose Awareness.

Listening to my gut, recognizing the things that don’t contribute positively to my life and eliminating them. Whether it’s a situation that causes me anguish, or friendships or relationships that have turned toxic, I’ll free myself from that negativity. I’ll be more aware of how things make me feel, and focus on my mental and emotional health. I’ll do more of the things I love: more journaling, more yoga, more mindfulness, more rest time.

I Choose Growth.

More searching to find the lessons through all of my struggles, searching to find the reasons behind the emotional pain. Gaining the understanding of how things make me feel and how I react to them. I will take the constructive criticism and strive to be better than the person I was yesterday.

And although it seems cliche and unfair, I’ll remind myself that there is always a reason for why things happen. So I will do my best to learn and accept all of it, remembering that those struggles, those hardships? They have made me who I am.

Photo via alexkich on Getty Images

Originally published: December 30, 2017
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