How to Move Toward Acceptance of Chronic Illness

Accepting your circumstances doesn’t mean giving up

How to Move Toward Acceptance of Chronic Illness

When we accept something, we agree to experience a situation or follow through with a process — even if it’s negative or uncomfortable — without trying to alter it or walk away from it. Acceptance is one of the toughest things a person must do, but oftentimes it is the only option available. Whether we are trying to accept the loss of a loved one, a move to new city, a divorce, or that pain and sickness are a part of our lives, acceptance can be a difficult undertaking.

My Experience with Acceptance

I was diagnosed in 2008 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia. My diagnoses felt like a death sentence and the information available on the Internet made me afraid that I would be disabled within a few years’ time. I knew that without accepting and acknowledging my situation now that I was sick, I could not have a full and productive life. Nevertheless, admitting that I was chronically ill was a difficult task because I feared that acceptance meant I was giving up.

I eventually did give into the idea of acceptance, but I didn’t give up. I decided to arm myself with factual information about how to best live alongside my diseases. Moreover, I found that my energy was better spent at seeking resources and support. With time, I understood that rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia were the same as any other struggle I had faced in my life and because of my previous experience, this new endeavor would be easier to bear. Further, I chose to perceive my illnesses as simply another unique attribute of the person that I was. Ultimately, I acknowledged that while I could not control my circumstance, I had power over my response.

Accepting That You Are Chronically Ill

Accepting that you are chronically ill does not mean you give into your illness. It means that you are willing to take control of your life in the way it is now and you acknowledge that your life cannot be the way it was prior to being diagnosed. It means you are willing to seize the opportunity to see past your limitations rather than to dwell on them. Once you decide that you want your experience to be positive, acceptance becomes about choosing to be optimistic, taking the time to educate yourself and loved ones, seeking support and guidance, and not worrying about an unknown future.

Choose optimism. Coming to terms with being chronically ill requires recognizing the difference between a challenging life and one that is over. Chronic illness is long term, not terminal. Make a choice to be optimistic for yourself and for those who love you.

Educate yourself and others. Taking the time to educate yourself about your condition can help you to understand what limitations your disease may pose and what things you can do to have a productive life. Educating loved ones can resolve misunderstandings and ease coping difficulties for all parties. Talk about expectations and attitudes so that you can help loved ones to understand what living with chronic illness is like for you and how they can help.

Find support. Reach out to others dealing with similar diseases to yours. Ask them about their experiences and find out how they have been able to live successfully despite the constraints of chronic disease. Invite them to share their positive experiences and also their negative ones. Inquire about limitations they have overcome and be open to sharing your experiences and anxieties.

Don’t worry about the future. None of us can look into a crystal ball and have a guaranteed answer to what the future holds. Make the choice to look to the future with ambition, hope, and an upbeat attitude. Your disease may have its effects on your body, but it will never own your mind and spirit. You are free to live and dream in any way that you choose.

Choosing Acceptance Over Denial

Chronic illness is unpredictable and life-altering, but choosing acceptance over denial will keep you from compromising your need for treatment, therapy and rest. Focus your energy on finding ways to adapt to the moments when your disease wreaks havoc on your life. Make the choice to be flexible through the unpredictability and understand that you cannot will your life back to what it was before your diagnosis. Appreciate all the things you can control rather than the ones you cannot. Live your life one day at a time and do not to allow chronic illness to prevent you from embracing all life has to offer.

Originally posted at Fibromyalgia Connect.

 

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