Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Question of the Week: What Have You Learned from Your Chronic Illness?

Ballet lessons 1Image by Oude School via Flickr
There is a saying that fits this week's question well:

Too many people miss the silver lining
because they are expecting gold.
~Maurice Setter

This quote speaks to me because I am guilty of missing silver linings too.

Early on in my chronic illness, I was so focused on finding a cure, the gold, that I lost focus of all other aspects of my life. Coming to that crossroads where I faced that this wasn't going away in spite of all my best efforts, I realized I needed to start living my life again. That meant finding or creating good out of a miserable situation.

Now I know that chronic illness is many things. One aspect I haven't discussed much is its role as a teacher. In preparing my answer to this week's question, I've realized that illness has taught me many, many things over the past 23 years, so much so that I am not sure how to answer this parallel question, "Who would you be without chronic illness?"

I can honestly say that because of these experiences with illness, I've uncovered glimpses of my true self. Or to put it another way, I simply can not imagine who I would be today if not for illness. Although oddly enough, I suspect I might be more unhappy and less fulfilled that I am today.

So in taking a closer look at my own silver linings, I begin with this list of ten things that chronic illness has taught me.
  1. to be patient and forgiving with myself
  2. to create structure and routine in my life
  3. to let go of the past, live in the present and remain hopeful about the future
  4. to be creative, flexible and resourceful
  5. to ask for what I want ... and be OK when someone tells me that they can't help me get it
  6. to recognize what true friendship looks like
  7. to be a container gardener
  8. to be a writer and blogger
  9. to be still long enough to recognize and enjoy the moments of happiness each day brings
  10. to know that bliss is a purring kitten in my arms and a warm puppy in my lap
So what have you learned from your chronic illness? Embrace your silver linings and share just one thing, either here in a comment or over at the Oh My Aches and Pains! Facebook page.

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Anonymous said...

I found when I was diagnosed with crohn's disease... since it was my first diagnosis, that I needed to take care of me more and stop doing everything for everyone. Take care of my body, and treasure it bc it can be gone in a second, eat well, bc it really does effect your body, your emotional self, and your physical appearance. Just to be me and not let anything stop me from accomplishing what I want in life. To never regret, but always go forward and constantly dream. That and not to drink like I was LOL.

Unknown said...

awesome post Selena! Seems we're on the same thought path with finding the silver linings despite our illnesses!