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6 Things People With Chronic Illness Share With Each Other

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For those of us with a rare disease or other chronic illness, it doesn’t take much to relate to one another, regardless of the diagnosis. Our commonalities can create an instant bond, an instant understanding of another’s life with chronic illness. We don’t need the same diagnosis or even the same symptoms or experiences. I believe we experience enough and know enough to have an idea of what life is like with that condition.

1. We share a medical life: It’s not uncommon for us to share many of the same symptoms across conditions. We often simply feel sick — that blah, icky feeling
that leaves you drained of energy and good health. We tend to have susceptibility to common ailments such as a cold or the flu. Fighting for our immunity is a known battleground for our health. We likely experience some type of chronic pain. And within subgroups of conditions, we share even more common ailments. We have additional uncommon symptoms, but we have a primary source of shared symptoms with different causes. But no matter what, we can relate.

2. We share the balancing act between medical life and daily life: Our days are occupied with  an abundance of medications, medical appointments and more frequent hospitalizations than those of the average healthy person. We know the burden of medical expenses and the absorbent amount of time required for managing our health. We relate to the frustration and demands of balancing medical obligations and our everyday lives. We understand choosing between one activity over another because our bodies may not let us complete both.

3. We share the struggle of disclosure: Disclosure can be a tricky subject. Knowing what and when to share with the various individuals in our lives isn’t always easy. What and when do we share information with potential and present employers, potential romantic partners, friends and family? It can be difficult to know the right timing and amount to share our inner most health secrets. We share the same worries and concerns about if our disclosure will be met with understanding and acceptance or rejection and ridicule.

4. We share important life lessons and virtues: We know what it means to persevere, to have inner strength and determination. We’ve learned what it takes to survive on a daily basis. It takes real strength not to give up, to keep chasing our dreams and to make the most out of life. It’s hard business keeping up with life when you’re sick, yet we manage to every day.

5. We share a deep appreciation for life and achievements: We’ve learned not to take life for granted. We’ve all lost loved ones, and these losses teach us to cherish every day, especially the good days. And on those good days, we’re extremely proud of our accomplishments. It isn’t always easy to achieve your goals when you’re dealing with a chronic illness. We appreciate how far we’ve come in life in the midst of health issues and make the best out of each day that we can.

6. We share with one another and support one another: No one knows as well as another chronically ill person the difficulty one faces on a daily basis. We share our stories with one another, and we band together in whatever form available to create a strong support network. We honor and respect others for their achievements. We celebrate the victories of others, small or large, and we empathize during the bad days when life can be trying and discouraging.

Follow this journey on Life’s a Polyp.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: February 14, 2016
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