Do you ever feel so tired and completely useless, that you believe you’ll never be that same person you were once before? You’ll never be able to contribute to society or have happy, healthy relationships? You feel as if your illness will be the one thing which will turn you into a lonely, depressed, angry human being, who lays in bed all day, with nothing to do but dream of all you could accomplish in your life? Well, I’m here to tell you that, believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be this way, with a positive attitude. If there is one thing I have learned, having chronic Lyme Disease for the majority of my young life, it’s that a chronic illness can shape you into becoming the person you were meant to be; a person who can understand concepts others cannot, a person who can help others! The key to unlocking all of the positive aspects of having a chronic illness, is found through acceptance. Since you cannot change your situation, you somewhat surrender, and are forced to move forward, blindly. There comes a time when you just have to let go, and accept what is. People accept their circumstances in different ways though, some people choose to laugh, some cry and some become simply infuriated. Emotions are one thing, but your attitude is a choice. It is important to process your emotions, and have a positive outlook on life, despite your circumstances. Even though this can be a difficult process, and may be hard to explain, I’d like to walk you through 5 ways in which you can develop a healthy, positive attitude, when dealing with a chronic illness:
5 Surprising Gifts Of Chronic Illness
1. You Stop Taking The Little Things For Granted
-When you become so ill that simply walking to your bed, or washing your face becomes an effort, you probably aren’t that interested in the latest gossip or how great your hair looks that day, huh? When you get to this point, you learn to appreciate the simple things, like taking a shower, or getting the mail, even having enough energy to make it through the first chapter of a new book. These accomplishments become little victories! Every time you accomplish something, you should congratulate yourself, as only you know how major this accomplishment was. When I view the way others take the little things for granted, it makes me feel lucky that I can appreciate something as simple as a tree full of bright yellow flowers. I feel as if it does not take as much for me to feel happy and grateful, where it can take a lot more for others. When you start appreciating the little things, life seems to offer a lot more. You realize that you don’t need much to be happy, it’s about appreciating the little things.
2. You Learn Where You Really Stand With People
-I can tell you that having a chronic illness, can expose the truth about people. It’s really difficult when people tell you, “it’s all in your head, your just hungry for attention” or “you look fine, so therefore you must be over exaggerating.” Sometimes even family will turn on you, at the worst time. There are different reasons as to why people do this. I’ve noticed that when people are scared and feel as if there’s nothing they can do to help you, they panic and convince themselves that everything is fine. Some people really don’t care, and do not want to deal with someone who is physically weak. No matter what the reason though, this is a gift, because you discover who will really be there till the end; you see who will stay by your side and support you when you need it most. People revealed their true colors to me, once they learned that I needed someone to lean on. As stressful and hurtful as this was, it was actually a blessing. Thankfully, I have been able to find the people who trust my integrity, accept my journey and truly care for my well-being.
3. You Start Treating Your Body Properly
-Before I contracted Lyme, or even knew I had it, my body was being somewhat deprived of all the proper nutrients. Not to say that I had an “awful diet”, I just was not paying much attention to the importance of nutrition, rest and self-respect. Lyme forced me to pay attention, and once I did, I started to see huge improvements! I learned how to feed my body properly, excluding all toxins and staying away from gluten-filled foods and sugars. I also learned that the body needs REST, no matter what! I started to develop more self-respect once I started treating my body properly, and my body thanked me. I feel that without this illness, I might have gone the rest of my life, deprived of this knowledge, which has shaped me into who I am, changed my path in life and opened up a whole new world. I wish the same for you!
4. You Discover Who You Are
-On the days when you feel completely obliterated, you forget how strong you really are, what you are capable of and the impact you can have on this world. I used to feel weak and wimpy, simply comparing my situation to others who were able to be active and seem to “achieve” more in their lives. I was falling into a downward spiral, and feeling sorry for myself. It took a while for me to realize, that I could actually handle more than the people I compared myself to! I was able to fight through my everyday pain and weakness, and even manage to smile. I realized how much I could accomplish, if I were actually feeling well! This gave me more hope to continue fighting for that kind of future. A future where I could use my full potential, my suffering, and my knowledge to help others! Despite the true physical difficulties of a chronic illness, always remind yourself that you made it through another day, you CAN fight through this and when you do, you will blossom. You may have to fight more than one battle, to win.
5. Your Path Becomes More Clear
-Yes, it may be difficult to grasp this concept, but it can be true. Everything which happens in life happens for a reason, good or bad. There is not one person on this Earth who has the same path as you do. Your journey is unique. People living with a chronic illness can relate to others in this same situation, because we all understand the twists and turns of this path. We develop a different perspective and understanding, which others may never understand. This knowledge allows us to relate to those who are suffering, and this can be a gift. By understanding what others need and feel, we can be there for them in the best way! You may come to the same conclusion that I did: for some reason, you were meant to live with this illness; trust this, because there is always a way you can turn your illness into something positive.
When you acknowledge and accept these gifts, you understand your path a bit more and this may give you hope. With hope, comes happiness. I encourage anyone who reads this, whether you have an illness or not, to remember that your uniqueness is your magic. Even though at times, it may feel impossible to wake up and feel determined, hopeful and cheerful, remind yourself that you are still alive for a reason, you are strong, you are beautiful and remember to breathe….By believing you can, you are halfway there.
(Go check out Sascha's awesome blog [here])