The Positive that Comes from Experiencing Chronic Illness

Positive from chronic illness? You might think I am crazy reading this headline but hear me out. Anyone who has experienced chronic illness knows the physical and emotional drain it can be on your body. I am not denying that at all. It is challenging in ways that I never thought it could be and you have no choice but to deal with it. There is no get out of jail free card here.

I was quickly forced to examine my lifestyle and how to properly support myself. It didn’t stop there. My support system quickly dwindled. I had to evaluate my relationships and deal with the loss of people who didn’t stick around. I am sorry to go all emotional on you here but if you are a fellow chronic illness warrior, you know all too well the unexpected challenges that are thrown your way.

Years of feeling sick followed by years of healing. Now I am free of debilitating symptoms. I never thought I would get to say those words. This was by far the most strengthening and awakening experience I have had yet. While it brought many unpleasant moments, it also impacted my life in a positive way. This experience has shifted my priorities, led me to discover a love for my body and guided me towards a more grateful mindset.

When your health is on the line, you open your eyes to what really matters in life. Things that once stressed me out don’t faze me at all anymore. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you were expecting or there were train delays and you were late to work. Well guess what, the world will still turn and everything will be okay!

I learned to take a step back and realize that these once perceived major stressors in life were really small in the grand scheme of things. My health and well-being are now my top priority and anything that jeopardizes that does not have a place in my life.

This experience has awakened a love and respect for my body. Throughout college and years into my early career, I treated my body terribly. I thought running 5 miles would erase a late night of drinking and eating dollar slice pizza in the East Village. Now I understand the importance of eating nutritious foods, supplementing with vitamins and getting proper rest. Sleep is now a priority and not something I cram in whenever I feel like it.

I experienced my body heal from deep, dark illness; watching it slowly repair itself day-by-day until my symptoms were gone. I finally have a love and respect for everything that it does and all that it is capable of doing.

This experience has opened my eyes to a more grateful mindset and way of life. Thanksgiving is no longer the only time of the year I express gratitude. Not that I was ungrateful or not enjoying life before this moment but I now focus on what I already have instead of what I do not.

When you are at rock bottom you learn to find positive in the smallest of experiences such as enjoying a warm cup of tea or having the ability to take a long walk. At one point, I was so ill that standing up was a struggle. It is all relative and the little things matter.

It was not an easy ride but I am forever thankful for the journey that has shifted my priorities and opened my eyes to a more peaceful way of life. I will have this outlook and mindset along with the tools to stay healthy from here on out.

xo jen

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