Since I got sick I’ve often felt weak and broken. There were times even before I was chronically ill when I felt that way, when anxiety overtook me and controlled me. I felt weak and broken then, that I couldn’t control the anxiety. With chronic illness (whether physical or mental) we often feel weak and broken, even useless.
Despite having my illness well under control I still often feel weak and broken at times. I feel useless, and I wonder what my purpose is. But, then I stop and think about all that my chronic illness has given me. I have much to be thankful for really, many things that wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my illness.
The truth is that we aren’t weak or broken, though. We are strong. The fact that we get through each day proves how strong we are. We also aren’t broken, although we may be a little bent, we are simply being formed in a different direction. We are not worthless, we have value, simply because we exist. We are so much more than just our illness. I am so much more than my illness. You are so much more than your illness.
In the end, we choose how we are treated. We can make choices that enhance our strength, and help us grow, rather than wither. Over the years, I’ve learned that there are a few things that I have to do in order to continually remind myself that I am strong and valuable.
1 . Surround myself with people who remind you of your worth. Unfortunately, sometimes those around us treat us in such a way that allow us to believe that we are broken, weak, or worthless. It’s up to us to choose how we are treated, to surround ourselves with people who remind us of our worth, to remind us that we are worthy of love, to remind us that we are strong. I choose to surround myself with those who remind me of my value. Who not only tell me they love me, but show me. People who enhance my passions rather than squashing them.
2. Create healthy habits that meet my needs – In order to feel worthy and valuable, I have to treat myself that way. I have to remind myself that I am important enough to care about, and if I don’t treat myself that way, how can I expect others to do so? For me, this includes things as simple as taking a bath at night. That time is “me time”, time when I am solely focused on my needs. Healthy habits also means choosing foods that nourish my body rather than foods that make me feel worse. And, at times it means that I choose to indulge, but I do so wisely.
3. Offer myself compassion – I make mistakes, we all do. It is too easy to kick myself repeatedly for those mistakes. To get stuck on them, and not let them go. But, that doesn’t help me. When I make a choice that isn’t in my best interest, I have to be compassionate with myself and offer myself forgiveness. I also have to be compassionate with myself and offer myself rest when I need it. No one else is going to look at me and say “hey you don’t look well, you should rest today.” But, I know when I don’t feel well and when I should rest. Compassion is taking that time and doing what my body needs.
4. Look for the best in every situation – Have you ever noticed that when you don’t feel well you are more likely to assume the worst in every situation? I know that I do it. If I’m not feeling well and my husband makes a joke, I’m all the more likely to take it the wrong way, to assume he’s not joking. It’s like because my body isn’t feeling well, that the whole world is out to get me. That’s so far from the truth. I have to work very hard to look for the positive in every situation, but it’s something I try to do. I try to remind myself, even when I’m not feeling well, that most people are acting with their best intentions. The likelihood that someone is really doing something intentionally to harm me in some way, or even to aggravate me, is very low. But, the likelihood that I’m over-reacting when I don’t feel well is probably higher than it should be.
As we live with chronic illness, it’s too easy to get mired in our weakness. But, we can choose to surround ourselves with the positive, with positive people, positive habits, and positive situations that build us up and remind us of our strength. I may be weak physically, or even emotionally, but I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for, and so are you.