Chronic pain and fatigue can really wear you down, whether it’s Fibromyalgia, CFS/ME, Lupus, or something else. Living in chronic pain can start to tear at your soul, it can make you feel worthless, and unworthy, but you are not. As I’ve talked with many chronic illness warriors there are a few thoughts that I feel like we all need to be reminded of.
1. You are Good Enough – It seems like no matter how hard we try, those of us with chronic illness constantly struggle and think that our best is not enough. We are not good enough. But, we are good enough! As Stuart Smalley would say “you are good enough, you are smart enough, and doggone it people like you”. Stop focusing on what you aren’t able to accomplish and think about all the amazing things you are doing despite your illness. You are not just good enough. You are amazing!
2. You can overcome this! – It’s easy to let chronic illness bury you, to decide that it’s not worth fighting and to just give up. But, you can overcome this. You may be stuck with chronic illness for life, and you can’t control the pain or the fatigue, but you can control your response. You can choose to be happy despite the pain and illness.
3. You are not to blame for your illness – But, you are responsible for your health. Educate yourself about your diagnoses and look for treatments that may not be offered by your doctor. You are not responsible for your illness, you didn’t cause it, and you certainly don’t deserve it, but you do still have some control. You can choose to either just follow along and take whatever treatments are given, or you can become an informed patient and seek out the best treatments for you. Stop trying to take responsibility for things outside of your control, and take control of the things you can.
4. You need to keep living! – Keep feeding your passions and find new ones. Find reasons to keep fighting. So many Spoonies that I’ve talked to have found new passions after they became ill. They discovered things that they never thought to even try but when they found themselves limited by chronic illness they tried something different – they picked up a camera, they tried digital painting, they took up knitting, they started a blog – and now they not only have something new they enjoy, but in many cases they’ve found ways to turn those things into an income stream. You aren’t done yet, you just have to find the new direction.
5. You can control how others treat you – How others treat you is within your control. When people treat you poorly you can walk away. You can set boundaries with those around you, even those closest to you. It’s not easy, especially when you are dealing with people you live with or see every day, but it’s never too late to let others know what you will tolerate, and to stop tolerating those who would overstep your boundaries.
6. You still have something to give – I think that when we feel we have nothing left to give it can become really difficult to hold on, and a lot easier to consider letting it all go. It’s often hard to separate yourself from who you were. We often wrap out identity around what we do, how we make a living, the roles we take, rather than who we really are. Even if you can’t do the things you used to do, you still have much to give. Even if it’s nothing more than a smile, a kind word, or an ear to listen. You have something to give.