The 6 Virtues of Chronic Illness
Back in August me and my sister had plans to go to Dublin for the bank holiday. This didn’t come to fruition. I wasn’t well enough. Chronic illness is a bitch. Instead for my week away from the working world, I laid broken in bed.
Here is the part in which I say, I chose not to be bitter. But this would be a lie.
I was bitter.
Bitter, broken and angry. I’m not naturally bitter or broken. They are symptoms.
I thought about writing this post at the time of my flare up. But I knew it would be tainted. I wouldn’t mean any of what I’m about to write, despite knowing its truth and feeling it in my heart.
I wasn’t me in those moments.
Sometimes the only way out, is to sit back and let the illness do its work.
After the flare
A Fibromyalgia flare up, feels like a possession. Your body isn’t yours, and your mind? Pah! As if. You are pain personified and pain is cruel.
“I just wanted something to go right for once.”
Now the flare up has passed, I can look back at my statement with some clarity. In fact, I feel quite nauseous at my own self-pity.
The 6 Virtues of Chronic Illness
A few years ago, I took my life for granted. I was ungrateful for the gift of good health. Now that I have experienced true suffering. Any prior woes seem tame by comparison.
This statement may sound kind of crazy. But I’m grateful for the lessons my illness has taught me. It’s kind of ironic, but on my good days I am happier than I ever was before my diagnosis.
There is always a dark and light to everything and at the time of writing (thankfully) I am in a position to pursue the light. This is for all of us.
1.Mental Resilience that is unshakeable
When your body is weak, if you are to survive, your mind MUST become strong. It seems dramatic. Alas I can’t express the sentiment in any other way.
This is one of the first lessons Chronic Illness will teach you.
No matter how many disappointments faced due to health challenges, you keep getting back up to continue the fight. Chronic illness is a master class in mental toughness.
2.Patience that is steady and true
When I first had to face up to the fact that I was ill, it was ugly. I was ugly. The situation was ugly. I knew things could never go back to “normal.” What’s normal though right? This realisation didn’t happen overnight. I had to re frame my whole perception about what it meant to live a “good” life.
Inch by inch and life’s a cinch.
My partner said this to me at a time when I needed it most. He was so right.
I had to learn to break the big things down in to smaller steps to keep my sanity. If I wasn’t well enough, I could still chip away at a small part of something bigger.
During flare ups I must listen to my body. Recovery periods take as long as they take. You can only fight against what your body needs for so long. The longer you ignore, the longer the flares ultimately last.
Not rushing back into your average routine takes some serious patience.
3.Loyalty of the fiercest kind
One of the most painful lessons to learn is how fickle people can be. Somewhere deep down, we all know this. But how often are you forced against your will to stop and confront this notion?
It is completely soul destroying to witness how quickly you are left behind, when you physically and mentally can’t keep up. Very few will look back to find you when they are able to move forward at their desired pace.
I used to be that person. I never looked back for those that fell behind, because I could keep moving forwards. I was ok. So, who cares?
Abandonment due to poor health. It never stops hurting.
Chronic illness makes you fiercely loyal to the souls that stood by you.
4.Appreciation of the mundane
I did something out of the ordinary today.
I met with a friend and I didn’t have to leave early because my energy levels suddenly plummeted. I came home and accomplished more.
I know that concept is exceptionally ordinary to most. But to the Chronic Illness Warrior, it is everything.
When your default focus is work, because you so desperately want to remain independent. Anything on top of the daily grind is a bonus.
I didn’t realise appreciation had so many layers to it.
On my better health days, I am still ill, but I feel amazing.
5.Respect for your body
When your body stops functioning, it commands your respect. If you don’t stop long enough to notice, you burn out.
Once you are forced to stop completely and pay attention to your body, you begin to slowly regain energy.
You begin to respect your needs enough to refuse the things that do not serve you.
The simple act of saying no, becomes a matter of survival.
6.Compassion of the highest order
Are you hurting? Me too.
Everything you are feeling, I have felt.
I’m not afraid of your pain nor am I scared by your suffering.
I will sit with you in your darkest hour.
I won’t turn away. I will bare-witness.
If there is a storm, we will brave it together.
We will discover the meaning hidden in this suffering.
Nothing written here is intended to garner sympathy. I’m at peace with my illness. I know there are some things I will never be able to physically do again. I know that there are things that I can still achieve, but the journey will inevitably take longer. But when I look back at how my life was fixed two years ago.
You know what? I’m doing OK 🙂
P.s. Why not buy me a coffee? 🙂
P.p.s. Why not check out my previous post by clicking the image below!