It is very easy to list out the negatives of having a chronic illness. The obvious ones may be high medical costs, lack of social life, not being able to participate in family functions and the list could go on and on.
Sometimes it is a good idea to think about the positive side as well. It sounds kind of silly but there are indeed positive things to be learned and experienced because of chronic illness.
- Empathy- This is probably the one that I have learned the most about. A lot of people have no clue what to say to someone that is struggling with a life-altering chronic illness much less understand what they are going through. So, many just step away from friendships because they don’t understand. It is ok not to understand what I am going through…just ask and I will explain. It is not ok to ignore me because of a lack of understanding. I appreciate the importance of trying to understand someone’s circumstances and I would have never had that without my journey.
- Appreciation- I know very few people that don’t take things for granted. But struggling with chronic illness makes you appreciate things that most people don’t even recognize. The glorious smell of a spring rain, having a day when you aren’t sick, having energy to accomplish tasks, being able to drive and attending family functions…just to name a few. I most definitely appreciate things more now than I did before my chronic illness changed my life. The tiniest things mean so much more!
- Use of time and energy– Before I became ill, I would get up in the morning, shower, get dressed, fix my hair, put on my makeup and prepare for the day without giving the tasks involved the least bit of thought. I could clean the entire house or do yard work without considering the energy needed to complete the tasks. Now I have to consider every part of my day. If I have to go somewhere in the morning, I must bathe the night before or getting ready will deplete my energy. My chronic illness has definitely forced me to pace myself and to manage my time and energy more efficiently.
Yes, life with chronic illness isn’t easy but there are positive things to be learned through the journey. I Try to create a space in each day to identify the positives. They will override the negatives every single time! It isn’t always easy and sometimes it feels impossible but I try to remember each day that I am a work in progress and that my journey isn’t over.