I was just recently diagnosed with a chronic illness & am in my thirties. It’s a path I didn’t think I’d be on for a long time if ever! I don’t want my illness to consume me, but where do I start it making wise choices? Can I be a “healthy” sick person? -Amy
Choosing to live well with a chronic illness isn’t easy. But after living with systemic lupus for more than 9 years, I now know that taking this step is paramount to improving life with a chronic illness. It takes keen self- awareness, patience, & forethought to actually choose “well”, but it can be done, & the results are worth every bit of effort you put forth.
What does choosing “well” mean? It means acknowledging that you have an illness that is chronic, one that won’t go away, no matter how much you want it to. It means accepting the fact that life may need to change because of that illness, & committing to do whatever it takes to improve your situation. It means declaring, “Yes, I have lupus. Now what can I do to make life with my illness better?”
For years, I didn’t realize I had a choice to make. I thought I was at the mercy of the disease – the symptoms, the side-effects, the medications, & the doctor’s orders. What I couldn’t underst& is that every time I worked too long, refused help from a family member, or failed to push my doctor for an explanation, I was choosing poorly. I wasn’t doing everything I could to accommodate or underst& my illness.
In fact, I was doing everything not to. I was fighting life, rather than living it. And I was choosing to do so. I was trying to ignore the disease, acting as if it wasn’t affecting me or my ability to function, perhaps hoping that it would just go away. But chronic illnesses don’t just disappear. We must embrace the disease in order to make it as inconspicuous as possible. And we do that by choosing “well”, each & every day.
I was diagnosed in January of 2001 with systemic lupus at the age of 26. And I too was determined not to let a chronic illness dictate the plans for my future, refusing to admit that my busy lifestyle & indomitable attitude were actually hindering my chances for a long, productive life. After four years of running my body into the ground, I decided to make it my top priority to start living well, despite lupus.
The steps I took to regain the health & wellness I’d lost are outlined in my book, Despite Lupus: How to Live Well with a Chronic Illness.
I let go of my career, postponed plans for pregnancy, & cutting off my hair (or what I had left)! These are just a few of the monumental, courageous steps I took to reach my goal of living well, despite lupus. In time, you will start to realize what is best for you, but you are off to a great start.
Sara Gorman is a native of Indiana & graduate of the University of Notre Dame. She resides in Alex&ria, Virginia with her husb&, 1-year-old daughter, & pug dog. Feel free to contact her at email@example.com or on her website www.despitelupus.com. Signed copies of the book are available at www.despitelupus.com. Book is also sold on Amazon.com & in bookstores across the country.