How to Stay Positive with Chronic Illness
Staying positive with a chronic illness is difficult to do. People often tell us “it could be worse” or “try to be positive.” Yes, they have good points. But in all reality, it could be better, too. Before I was sick, I was very happy. Everything was going right. I was rock climbing and traveling all the time, had incredible friends, and I felt pretty healthy. After I got sick with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), I had to take a step back from my climbing. It’s hard to be positive all the time when one of your passions is taken away from you. But that definitely doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.
For me, staying positive means accepting your situation. It means knowing that you are still blessed, despite your condition. When I am not able to climb or exercise, I am forced to look for other ways to spend my time. I really believe this has been a blessing in disguise. Though climbing is what I’m most passionate about, I think I was failing to make time for other things that are important to me as well.
Recently, I have taken up baking and cooking. I have celiac disease as well, so everything I make is gluten free. I have had so much fun with it that I started an instagram to share what I make. I’m also planning to start a recipe/lifestyle blog for celiacs and gluten free eaters. I can safely say, if I hadn’t become sick, I wouldn’t have taken up this hobby!
I’ve spent more time devoting myself to my religion, which is very important to me. It has helped me through these difficult times, and I feel more peace in my life now.
Being sick has been difficult, but I’ve learned a lot. It has been worth it in many ways.
I think it’s important to realize that it’s OK to get upset or sad about your situation. Cry if you need to. I do it. It’s hard, it really is! What matters is that you let it all out, pull yourself together, and keep trying.
After finding out I needed a surgery last week and getting diagnosed with a sleeping disorder, I went back to work to let my manager know I’d be out for a few weeks. She said, “Wow, with everything you’re going through, you’re still smiling and laughing.” I replied, “Yes, but a few hours ago, that wasn’t the case.” I had been crying a few hours back, because everything seemed too much to handle. But I let it out, pulled myself together, and I was ready to be positive again. And it was genuine. Sometimes it takes a little bit of bravery and faith.
Try to find things that make you happy. Try to be positive. Help other people and accept help when you need it. Do everything you can to improve your health. But know that it’s ok to be sad sometimes. Please just don’t stay miserable.
Seeking someone that is going through something similar has been a huge help to me. It feels great to know that I’m not alone.
A friend recently told me this: “When you can’t do what you want to do, you do what matters most.” I challenge those people that are going through chronic illness to find these things, and continue to seek them. You can have happiness, even if you’re forced to give up things you love because of your condition.