When being chronically ill, it’s easy to merge your identity with your illness. I’m here to tell you that you are not your illness. The way I see it, illness is something that happens to us. It changes our life and perspective. It may influence our choices and outlook but we are not our illness. Finding yourself after or during chronic illness can be a struggle. I’ve identified ways to discover who you are in the midst of being sick and I thought I’d share them here with you.
- Find Your Purpose
We are all here for a reason. Depending on your ideology, you may look at this differently but at the end of the day, we all have a purpose. Finding this can help lead us down a productive path and give our life a breath of fresh air. Even those who don’t struggle with chronic illness can feel lost without a purpose. What do you want to do? Do you want to make the world a better place? If so, how do you want to make an impact? Shape your world view around what you want out of life.
- Love Yourself
Creating self-love can be difficult when you’re starting out. We don’t all start the day with what we love about ourselves. I would suggest starting with one thing you love about yourself. If you struggle with this, write down one thing you like about yourself. It’s all about baby steps. Trust me, there are tons of personality traits to love. If you’re still struggling, reach out to a close friend and ask what they love about you and build off of that. If you ask a friend, that’s a good starting place but remember, this is about loving yourself. Don’t start to rely on other’s opinions and mix them with your worth. You are enough and worthy regardless of people’s opinions whether they are good or bad.
- Find a Hobby
On my bad days, it’s easy to get lost in feeling sick. It’s difficult to be productive and let go of symptoms. I find it nice to get lost in something. Sometimes I write or sew, it depends on what symptoms I’m dealing with that day. I try to be productive, no matter what that looks like. I write down when I meditate or do an exposure for my OCD. Writing these down can help to put into perspective the efforts you are making. It’s easy to get angry about what you can’t do, I like to focus on what I can and have done.
Everybody will have their good and bad days. It’s easy to get caught up in bad days when you’re fighting with your body. Accepting that you are not your symptoms will send a message to your brain. Although it’s inconvenient that your physically struggling, it doesn’t change your worth or your ambitions. You aren’t lazy. One of the most freeing things my doctor ever said to me was “You will struggle, there’s no way around that.” It took the perfectionism out of my days. I can do everything right and still have symptoms, that’s not my fault.
Dealing with a chronic illness is challenging. Give yourself credit for all you do on a daily basis. Don’t merge your identity with your sickness. You are so much more. You are amazing and wonderful for so many reasons. It’s important to self reflect and give yourself love every day. Otherwise, we get caught up in what could be better. You are doing great.