Living with Chronic Illness Changes To Your Life

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Living with chronic illness is overwhelming and it brings with it a whole range of emotions from shock to anger to sadness to grief. Chronic illness can feel like a life sentence because it impacts our lives forever.  The good news, however, is that, while most chronic illnesses do not have cures, they usually can be managed with medication, diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.  Moreover, being sick doesn’t mean your life is over or that your plans have to change.  It just means that the timing and path likely will.

 I often think about at how my life has changed since chronic illness came into it.  For a long time, that unwanted and forced change created unhappiness in my life.  Over time, however, I have learned that if I allow myself to be flexible and open to change, I can adapt, accept, and even use the change to my benefit.

 Chronic Illness Has Changed Me

Like many others living with chronic illness, unwelcome change from chronic disease has been a daily reality for me.  Having two children, a career and dealing with the trials and demands of a work-life balance, I understand that illness can drastically affect a person’s lifestyle, relationships and future goals.

 Not only has chronic illness brought change to my life but it has also changed me.  Some of the change has been positive and some of it hasn’t.  Most notably, it has made me a stronger person – both in conviction and in the ability to see past my limitations.  At the same token, I have struggled with forced change from chronic illness, including failed personal relationships, a different career path, and a changing financial situation.

Making the Best of Life with Chronic Illness

Every day, chronic illness finds new ways to challenge me and I am reminded daily how being sick has forever changed me.  Prior to being diagnosed, I was a busy working mother who had plans to attend law school in addition to my already busy law office job and family life.  One very sad day, I realized I could not take care of two children, attend law school, work fulltime, and be chronically ill.  However, I still could decide what I wanted out of life.  I could either choose to dwell over my changed plans or I could make the best of my life even with chronic illness as a dominating factor.

How did I make the best of my life despite chronic Illness?

I chose acceptance.  I have often applied the Serenity Prayer to various aspects of my daily life and I have also learned to add it to my long term goals.  “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”   I may not have much control when it comes to being chronically ill but I still have a choice when it comes to managing my health and being happy.

I offered and sought support.  I found that in doing so, I not only helped myself but I also helped others. I also found out that I wasn’t alone in the change that chronic illness brought to my life.  By sharing experiences with others, I learned that there are better ways to cope with change and that I can make the best of what life has to offer with and despite chronic illness.

I looked for the silver lining instead of asking “why?” I realized that while I didn’t have a choice in being sick, I had a choice in how I responded.  I could spend my time asking “why?” or I could ask “what now?”  My dreams may have changed but being sick has challenged me to find out what I am truly capable of and how I can use my abilities to my advantage.

Using Change to My Benefit

I understand all too well that chronic illness has changed my life and has forced me to change.  And sometimes, I mourn the person I used to be but in the grand scheme of things, I am happy with the person I have become.  Further, accepting the change that chronic illness brought into my life has allowed me to better focus on management of my health while continuing to find better ways to accomplish my goals and to challenge myself.

Dealing with chronic illness is no walk in the park. It can be demanding and it can be hard.  However, the ability to overcome and accept is a personal preference.  You can either choose to dwell on your weaknesses or you can dare to find your strengths and to look for a silver lining even when life forces your hand.  Forced change can either be to your determent or your benefit.

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2 comments

  1. I came across your post when searching for information about how chronic illness changes one’s life. My best friend is going through this, and I would like to be able to support her but don’t know how. Do you have suggestions about how friends can be helpful to someone who is struggling with the acceptance of a changed life? Are there resources you could point to? Thank you, and thank you for sharing your story!

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