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Taking Back Our Power in Life With Chronic Illness

Disempowerment.

That can be a major side effect of chronic illness, which strips away our dreams, our goals, our entire life and leaves us feeling powerless.

We give our power away to doctors. We deal with doctors who invalidate us or give us diagnoses that we know feel wrong, but we listen to them because we are desperate to get answers.

We give our power away to toxic people. We deal with people who tell us our symptoms are in our head and our treatments are ludicrous, and we question everything we are doing.

We give our power away to others we don’t even know. We compare ourselves to others, especially on social media, and then wonder why we aren’t getting better as quickly and question if we are doing something wrong. Or we feel bad being honest about how we feel because other people “have it worse.”

So how do we take our power back?

1) We follow our intuition and trust what we feel. Only we know if a doctor feels off, if a treatment feels wrong, if we feel worse or better. We don’t let anyone convince us that how we feel is wrong.

2) We don’t let people make us feel a certain way. There will always be people that test us and trigger us, but we have the power to respond rather than react. We have the choice to not take things personally and to remind ourselves that if people are judging our medical decisions, that says more about them than us.

3) We feel our emotions. All of them are valid. By suppressing or resisting them, they become overpowering and we can feel like they are in control of us. But actually sitting with and feeling difficult emotions is extremely powerful and healing.

4) We realize everyone is on a different path, and everyone’s body and medical situation are completely different. Just because one person responds well to a certain treatment doesn’t mean that it will work for us. And that’s OK. We realize we are all doing our best to get better, and that will look different for everyone.

5) We take all the energy that we spend worrying about things we can’t control (symptoms, flare-ups, diagnoses) and instead put it into things we can control, like giving ourselves what we need in the moment (rest, sleep, a long cry, a bath, going out with friends, texting someone, etc.) and taking care of ourselves like we do others.

No matter what others say or do, and no matter how we feel, we can always make empowering choices in each moment.

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