5 Ways I Stay Positive Living with a Chronic Illness

On the eve, literally, of a new year, I want to reflect and share a few ways that I stay positive in the face of my daily chronic illness.

We all have our challenges. I would never feign to understand the workings of the universe and its complexity, all of the senseless pain: murdered children, whole towns destroyed by hurricanes, rape, genocide, racism. What I do understand is that we have an opportunity to grow with every challenge. The harder it is, the greater the growth.

You’re probably thinking, duh-sies. And yet, it is this simple truth that has gotten me through my own tribulations. To become sick at age 23 was not what I had planned for my adult life. It challenged me beyond what I thought I could handle. And yet I knew that I could, because I’d been to hell and back and was all the stronger for it. As a dear person to me once said, “There’s no way through, but through.”

Here are 5 Ways I choose to stay positive with my chronic illness. I find they help me with more than just that too. I hope they help you.

1. Counting my blessings; I am college educated, have dependable relationships, live in a beautiful city in a beautiful home with access to amazing food, health insurance, and the list goes on and on and on…

2. Believing AND trusting in a higher power; there isn’t a single thing that has gone “wrong” in my life that didn’t lead to something incomprehensibly great, nuanced, special, and sacred. For instance, my illness took me away from the social work I was doing, but brought me back to my writing and creativity.

3. Reminding myself, “This too shall pass;” If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s change! Just as I am sick today, I may feel better tomorrow, or even in an hour. This simple mantra has gotten me through the roughest patches.

4. Drawing strength from close relationships; I’d be here all day if I listed everyone that impacts my life on a daily basis. Above all, my life-love and partner has been the rock that I swim to in the storm. Our relationship is a gift that spreads into every aspect of my life.

5. Keeping perspective:  people everywhere suffer! I watched all of Daniel Day-Lewis’s films this year, including My Left Foot. Watching that film gave me huge gratitude for what my situation was—even though it is still hard. Knowing that people everywhere suffer, and have since the beginning of time, helps me keep perspective on my own situation. Even my own situation has helped me keep perspective. I was once in a wheelchair!

What strategies do you use to keep your spirits up when life throws you a curveball that knocks out your lights?


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