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The Problem With Saying 'My Chronic Illness Doesn't Stop Me'

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Pain: the reality so many of us feel when battling a chronic illness. It affects us all in different joints and body parts, at different times of the day and in different levels. We often sympathize with one another because we “just get it” and I hate to say it, but a lot of the world around us doesn’t. They don’t get that we are in pain every day and every hour, but they can’t see it.

In our community, we are so great at sending one another positive affirmations such as “look for the rainbow after the storm,” and these are often true and mostly helpful. Then I hear people say something I have been guilty of saying in the past, but as I truly thought about these words, I realized I was harming myself more than I was encouraging myself.

“My chronic illness doesn’t stop me.”

But is that really true? You may be in pain every single day, and constantly back and forth from the hospital and appointments. It can force you to change or cancel plans and rethink everything you want to achieve.

Being proud is important, and I think “don’t let your illness consume your life and aspirations” is a message many of us need to hear. But convincing yourself that an illness you have no control over will not stop you encourages you to go into drive mode. It creates pressure to continue with “normal life” at 100 mph, not recognizing that your illness will slow you down some days. I used to be this person, traveling at the fastest speeds and doing everything I loved in life but in denial that my illness would affect me.

It took a pretty special person to remind me that acceptance is key. Life can and should be everything you want it to be, but accept that it might not always be full of achievements and memories — there will also be the reality of your illness. That doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you one hell of a fighter.

So instead of saying, “my chronic illness doesn’t stop me,” try saying, “my chronic illness may stop me, but it won’t consume me, and I will forever strive for the life I desire.”

Getty image by Saklakova.

Originally published: October 12, 2020
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