May 26, 2015

5 Positive Things You Learn When You Have a Chronic Illness

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Felix Russel-Saw
Felix Russel-Saw

I didn’t see any positives at diagnosis. I saw the grey, drab hospital room and my specialist who was basically telling me the rest of my life would be spent fatigued and in pain. I hadn’t considered any good effects or life lessons I will learn from this, in which I would grow. I had only seen the negatives and the losses; which is perfectly normal I might add.

Now, years later, I have had the space to reflect and begin to change my mind about my life with my illness. It’s no longer a sentence but an opportunity to better myself and be as happy as I possibly can be. Don’t get me wrong it has been tough, I have wanted to give up and throw in the towel but the key point is that I haven’t. So I wanted to share some positivity, to let others know that they are going to be okay in the long run, it just takes some time.

1. You will start to see a strength of will that you didn’t know existed.

I always used to think I was a bit of a “giverupper”…..that is my word for it so do excuse me. I would often have these grand dreams and I would start projects and then never quite complete them. It wasn’t out of laziness or boredom, it all came down to confidence. I simply didn’t think I was good enough to try and so I wouldn’t. The problem is, when you are faced with a lifelong, incurable illness, you cannot simply just give up. When I look back over the years I realise that I have never fought so hard to keep up a quality of life that I deserve. You may not realise it, but when you are so ill that getting dressed requires a nap afterwards, any task that you complete is a win in my book! It is this strength of will that will get you through the darkest times and have you holding your head high when the light turns on again.

2. Positivity will begin to creep in when you are at your lowest.

The problem with an invisible illness is the comments, the looks and the judgements from people when you look great but use a walking stick, or you park in the disabled spot. It can feel like you cannot be trusted as a member of society and it hurts. I have realised that nowadays it can actually be turned into a positive scenario because it can help to educate others about your condition. If someone asks me now, why I am using a stick I will tell them the truth ad offer up some great websites they can check out. I can do good from this bad situation in the hope that others can be spared the embarrassment. And okay, selfishly I feel like I am doing my bit to help others out.

3. You will take more pleasure from the smaller things in life.

10 years ago I would have given my right arm for a pair of jimmy choos, trust me they were a priority once I got my first job after university. Now I cannot believe I am getting excited about using my new turquoise walking stick; life changes in such unexpected ways that we often forget the smaller things that make us smile. I know there are many things I cannot do now, that I used to take for granted, but so many things that I can do may not look as exciting from an outside view, but are in fat more important than ever. A cup of tea with a friend can feel like winning the lottery, or a text from a loved one to see how you are feeling today. These things hold a greater meaning and worth than any pair of Jimmy Choos can.

4. Becoming part of a community has made me a better person.

I used to hate the internet and social media, I would get on my high horse about the reasons why it was killing communication and blah blah blah. I didn’t realise that the internet would be the reason I felt part of a community like no other. Whether you call it the “spoonie world” or some other equally strange wording, all of us who use online support groups, blogs or Facebook to air our frustrations have instantly become part of something bigger than ourselves. I have found solace here, found peace, developed an entire new family all from getting online because I am too ill to leave my house most days. You can’t get a better positive than that.

5. You will realize that you are NOT your diagnosis.

One thing that makes me so sad is when diagnosis consumes your everyday being. Oh it’s easy to let it, I know it’s one of the largest factors at play in my life, but it’s not the ONLY factor. I have a great partner, a wonderful blog, my vinyl collection, my friendships that have been around far longer than my illness, I have a new found love of nature and meditation. I have discovered the true meaning of empathy and positivity for personal growth. I am lucky to have all of these things. The way I see my illness has changed dramatically over the years. It’s gone from an all-consuming devil to becoming part and parcel of who I am. I am Cass I have green eyes, red hair and lupus. It’s that simple. TC mark

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