The Positives Chronic Illness Has Taught Me

You often hear people say ‘Life doesn’t give you what you can’t handle’. Other people say you are sent things to try and toughen you, ready for future trials – that’s a scary thought. As Kelly Clarkson so eloquently put it ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, is probably the one I resonate with the most.

Chronic illness has taught me a lot in our eleven years of courtship. I can’t even begin to scratch the surface with everything it has taught me but I wanted to share a few things that come to mind; especially as, in my opinion chronic illness has made me into a far better person.

What has chronic illness taught me?

Stillness & Peace

Oftentimes, I look like a completely healthy and functional human being however there are a few people who have learnt to see through the mask I so often put on and I feel as though I have also learnt this skill. I have learnt to remain still and calm in the face of adversity. I have learnt to stop and observe my surroundings, to listen -to truly listen. Theres often no need for any input at all. People usually just need a friendly face and a listening ear for their woes.

Perspective

My life was going down a specific road but in retrospect I realise that I weren’t truly living. I learnt to live for the little things -the warmth of a first morning tea, the way the dogs get so excited greeting me in the morning, the first sign of spring and the feeling of the suns warmth on your skin. There are so many things that I absolutely love that my boyfriend and family find bizarre. In those moments I have to remind myself that they have their health which means the mundane things I so deeply appreciate aren’t so special for them.

Perseverance

Chronic illness is a brutal motherf*cker but whether it be at the will of a higher power or that little voice in your head telling you that you can do it, you find a way forward; through the weaker, darker moments. We fight on, often with great hardship. We find a way because we know our voices still matter and we can still contribute something to this world. We don’t sit and dwell on our sufferings. We either allow it to control us or learn from experience and find ways to try to control it; or at least live with it.

Strength

There is so many variations of pain that can be felt – emotional, physical, relationships, financial, mental, etc and its so hard, near enough impossible not to be shaken by such intense pain. Your life completely changes and with that brings so much pain; however a benefit, is you also come across this immense, iron-like strength. Physically I struggle every second of every day but my mentality and spirit feels Herculean.

Empathy & Compassion

When you have felt the depths of despair and felt so helpless, like you’re drowning in a dark abyss you’ll never navigate your way out of you can’t help but feel empathy for others who have also experienced something similar. With great adversity and discomfort comes an understanding that is often more authentic given your own trials. You learns ways to recognise and support others in a way that is genuine and warm.

Purpose

Before my illness, I was laser-focused on a set path which was incredibly different to how my life is now. Yes, no one ever thinks they will be ill but my purpose and identity has completely changed. I was constantly chasing a career, monetary goals, the perfect body, and so many other generic life goals. Now I live for moments of joy with my animals, family, and friends. Moments outside, feeling the sun on my skin and breathing fresh air.

Acceptance, Self-love and Self-care

I will always be gut-punched by the realisation that my life is not how I envisioned. It usually happens at milestones like birthdays, specials occasions like graduations, weddings, etc. From having a chronic illness and so much of my life being drastically changed, I realise many of my worries before were trivial. I face a whole other set of challenges which have helped me accept other elements of my life. I celebrate the small accomplishments I achieve in my daily life. I have learnt to look after myself and to accept defeat. To treat my body kindly when I don’t manage even the smallest of tasks. Being chronically ill has forced me to prioritise myself and my wellbeing in a way that I never would have had to before. So many of us get stuck in the rat-race and end up becoming burnt out. By practising some self-care and tending to our own needs, we become so much better at helping ourselves in the long run and others around us too.

I could write about chronic illness for so long but I won’t -I’ll refrain this time around. Today, the 12th May is M.E. awareness day which I why I felt so compelled to share this post today. So often I read posts about M.E. which are so great at educating people about it and other chronic illnesses but I didn’t want to go down that route. Instead, I wanted to share the positives that have come with my chronic health conditions. I will just say though, I will be spending this Sunday having my own dairy-free and gluten-free tea party for Blue Sunday, and if you don’t know what that is I highly recommend you head on over here and have a read of what it is and how it came to be.

Cheerio for now!

When it rains, it pours

when it rains, it pours

this is a perfect phrase to fit explaining a flare. as a severe sufferer of multiple chronic illness’ I’m faced with the dilemmas of everyday life and how they may effect me in the long run. on one hand I have to pace myself and only use my designated spoons for that day otherwise I run the risk of borrowing spoons from future days, flaking out and causing a flare. a flare is something I, and many other spoonies, generally refer to as a

huge unwanted speed bump in life, which resembles more of Mount Everest than an actual everyday speed bump

sometimes a flare is a result of borrowing spoons and ultimately flaking out, but sometimes it can also pop up out of nowhere, and for no cause at all. It makes everything a thousand times harder and more of a struggle than what it usually is. Any Spoonie will know how hard everyday life is anyway but with a flare it’s like trying to save yourself from being immersed in sinking mud, yet you have weights & chains pulling you down. Which I, myself, feel like I’m going through now.
Let me give you a run down of a normal weekend outing, after spending the entire week laid up in bed or on the sofa.
You see on a Sunday I may go to lakeside, a regional shopping centre about a twenty minute drive from where I live, with my mom and nan. we usually get there, and park in the mobility car park which has it’s own entrance to Debenhams. once we get in my nan will need a coffee and something to eat so we’ll go upstairs into Debenhams own café. the café is so noisy for me. first of all there’s the background music which consists of a mixtape/podcast stuck on loop. It includes pieces of music, offers and competitions going on in store, and audio adverts for brands and designers they endorse in store. they have this at an average volume until it’s drowned out and the store tannoy goes on full volume to let someone know they’ve lost their kid and let them know where to claim them (I have hyper sensitivities, which include sound so it’s more like sitting in a gig than a café). than there’s the ‘clanky’ sound of plates; cutlery, cups & saucers being picked up and put down. there’s people chit-chatting, the chick in the corner having a “no you hang up first” argument on her phone, the old deaf couple across the way shouting their conversation to one another for the whole world to hear and than there’s the small boy throwing a screaming tantrum as his parents sit oblivious to the show their son is throwing. all of this has gone on, nearly all my valuable spoons have disappeared into thin air and my nan hasn’t even brought over our tray of drinks let alone the fact we haven’t even waited or had our food yet. so by the time we’re done in the café we need to hop back in the car to get home so I can hibernate after being out for a maximum of thirty minutes.
so with that in mind you can see how the littlest things can all add up and cause a right storm for a spoonies body -into a flare of all flares. and so the brick wall comes crushing down on me and your left in a heap on the floor reassembling the bricks in order to get back to how it was. when it rains it pours.

Cheerio for now!