Dear Chronic Illness, I Want to Say Thank You

6:00:00 PM

Today's Spoonie Saturday post is dedicated to thanking my chronic illnesses!

There are days that I hate each one of my chronic illnesses. There are days that I hate not being able to do the things I used to be able to do. There are days that I want to give up. Then there are days of realization.

I’ve realized that ultimately, I should be grateful for my chronic illnesses, both mental and physical. Whether they are invisible or not, they are a part of me. 

Yes, they do affect a big portion of my life. Yes, they can be annoying and disheartening. But at the same time, they are beneficial. That’s why I want to say thank you.

I want to say thank you for giving me free time. There are days when I am bored out of my mind with nothing to do, but then there are the days that I get so much done. I’ve hated not being able to work or go to school, but my chronic illnesses have allowed me to use that time for other important aspects of my life.

I want to say thank you for allowing me to dive into my creativity. With all of this free time, I am able to throw myself into new projects that I actually care about. I’m not just working to bring home a check. I am working to fulfill my dreams and follow my passions.

I want to say thank you for keeping me home. There are days that I want nothing more than to leave, but I appreciate the fact that I’m home. Others aren’t always so lucky. There was a time that my husband would go to work and I’d be gone just minutes before he came home. I would be on my way to work and I wouldn't come home until after dinner time. We would eat, watch a little TV, and then go to bed. Now I’m able to be home when my husband gets home. We may get sick of each other from time to time, but I’m able to be home and spend time with him and our kittens. 

I want to say thank you for making me slow down. I’ve always been a worrier and a perfectionist and that’s led to a lot of burnouts. I was so stressed between work, school, and everything else, that I was constantly sick. I was worried about things that weren’t really all that important. Now I’m able to slow down and enjoy the present. I still occasionally worry about the future, but not to the extent that I used to.

I want to say thank you for helping me become stronger. I know that might sound crazy since these illnesses are physically making me weak, but it’s true. As I struggle to walk, I can feel people staring at me and judging me. As I discuss my medical issues, I can hear those around me pitying me. If this didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have become as strong as I am now. I wouldn’t be able to push through those moments of sadness and be grateful for my illnesses. 

I want to say thank you for insisting that I listen to my body. Before my diagnoses, I used to run around like a chicken with its head cut off. I was constantly doing something and pushing my body past its limits. Now I take the time to listen to it. I know when I can do things and when I can’t. I know what my body needs when I start feeling a certain way. I’m more in sync with my body now, than I’ve ever been. 

I want to say thank you for helping me raise my voice. Prior to my diagnoses, I was the kind of person that would do as she was told. Unless of course it went against my morals or beliefs. I was the kind of person that wouldn’t tell the waiter that my entire order was wrong instead of asking for new food. Now I am an advocate for myself. It wasn’t that I didn’t stand up for myself before, but I definitely wasn’t using my voice. Now I make sure that what I’m doing is best for me. I ask questions and counter others if I think there is something wrong. 

I want to say thank you for introducing me to my spoonie family. This community is more wonderful than I could have ever imagined. I have met so many inspiring people succeeding despite their illnesses. I have made friends with people all around the world, many of which treat me better than some of my own friends and family. I know that I can go to them when I’m scared and they’ll understand. I know that I can lean on them when I need some extra encouragement or strength. They are there for me in a way that no one else has been there for me. They make me feel better about the choices I make regarding my health and they help me make them too. They share their experiences with me so I can have all the information that I need before making a decision.

I want to say thank you for showing me who my true friends are. I wasn’t necessarily popular, but I had a lot of friends. Since my diagnoses, I’ve lost a lot of them. I’m not sure whether it was just hard for them to understand or if it was just too much for them, but they are gone nonetheless. I’ve realized though, that if they were true friends they’d still be here for me. This realization has helped me put more effort into the friendships that actually matter. I have a limited amount of energy and I shouldn’t be wasting it on people that wouldn’t be there for me when I really needed them. 

I want to say thank you for forcing me to eliminate the toxic relationships in my life. This is something that I’ve always struggled with. I’ve wanted to cut ties with so many people in my life, but that’s hard to do with family members or people you see all the time. Now that I’m having heart problems, I see how important this is now more than ever. There’s no reason to add extra stress or negativity in my life. 

I want to say thank you for making me take a moment and think long and hard about my dreams. Going into college my plan was to major in psychology and then go to law school. I wanted to know that I’d be financially stable and I thought I could be with a law degree. As my illnesses got worse, I realized school just wasn’t for me. I was putting my time, money, and energy into something that I just didn’t love. After school, I started a job which wasn’t for me either. That then led to starting my own business. I loved it at first, but I wasn’t truly happy. Now I’ve reintroduced writing into my life. I’m running a blog that I love, I’m writing about topics that I enjoy, and I’m working on the book I’ve always dreamed of writing. 

It’s hard to accept your diagnosis and I by no means, think I’ve completely done that yet. I’m not even sure if I ever will. What I am sure of though, is that I am thankful for these illnesses. I know that I won’t always remember that when I’m struggling to walk across a room, curled up in a ball in pain, or breaking down in the bathroom, but I recognize it and that is enough. These illnesses were a blessing in disguise. They have truly changed my life and for that, I am incredibly grateful. 

Why are you thankful for your chronic illness? Tell me in the comments!

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  1. Thank you so much for you comment! Part of the reason that I started this blog was to educate the community and hopefully end the stigma against both mental and physical illnesses. Knowing that just one person can relate to one of my posts means the world to me!

    I'm sorry to hear that you were also unhappy with your jobs, but I'm glad to hear that you got out of them! I know how hard it can be to give something up that we used to think was so meaningful and important. When I was a resident assistant in college, it took over my entire life. My job was 24/7 and I dealt with so many difficult circumstances (domestic violence, suicide attempts, etc.) Once that job was finally over, I wasn't really sure what to do with myself anymore. I never found anything I was truly happy doing until I had to quit everything. My illnesses allowed me to dive into what I loved and I've been incredibly happy since.

    I completely feel you on going undiagnosed! The last year or two has been the worst for me and I'm going on close to 15 diagnoses already, but there's still symptoms we can't figure out. I'm glad that you were able to get the diagnosis you need and you've got such a great support system in place!

    I truly hope that your symptoms get easier and you're able to do the things that you are passionate about. I'd love to see what it is that you create if you have a site up and running :)

  2. And here I thought that I was the only one who writes thank you notes to her disorder! Thank you for reminding me that I'm not alone in thinking that there are some precious b things our illnesses give us.

    1. You are definitely not the only one! I have seen a few from some of the other bloggers that I adore and I loved them. It's interesting to see which benefits we've each gotten out of our diagnoses as some are very similar and some are from opposite sides of the spectrum.

  3. Yes, there certainly are things to be thankful for in spite of chronic illness as well as because of chronic illness. Thank you for that reminder, Ivy. :)

  4. You're welcome! There definitely are some things to be thankful for. We just need to remember to stay thankful even during the hard times 💖