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.
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.
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.
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.
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!