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Accepting and Surviving Chronic Illness

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Acceptance – such a huge word for us. Any chronic illness is difficult to accept. However, one which takes over your entire being is most difficult. The first thing that I found so very hard – beyond words – to accept was resigning from my management position. I kept taking sick days – then trying to go in for a few hours, but just couldn’t sit up to work. I had no choice but to quit and that, in itself, felt like defeat.
We sometimes base our self-worth on what we did each day and how much we accomplished. We’ve been trained to think in those terms for so long, that the emotional part can be devastating. Then there’s the acceptance of a life-long illness with so many symptoms, too numerous to comprehend. Accepting having to see so many doctors, taking medications, spending time in bed, isolation and loneliness. All of this deposited onto one person to bear. It’s a process of reminding yourself that this is not of your own making. You’re not your illness but a vital and wonderfully made human being.  Forgiving yourself is a huge step to acceptance.
Listening to your body, resting, napping, taking good immune building supplements, learning and practicing slow, deep – in the nose, out the mouth – breathing is not giving into the illness. It’s taking care of you, in your present situation. Pushing will only result in a worsening of your condition.  If your car breaks down, don’t you do what it takes to repair it ? The same with our bodies.
Talking about it is very therapeutic. Getting out those emotions of how it makes you feel to be in this place at this time in your life is essential to healing. If we hold it in, it doesn’t go away, but returns another day with reinforcements. This change won’t happen over night and will take a retraining of how you view who you are. It’s a process of grieving your loss and finding your new way of normal, in your new world.
You show your strength and courage with each breath you take, every obstacle you overcome, each time you learn news ways to cope. You are fearless, even in your pain, for you move ever forward despite it.
All of your adversity has rebuilt you, mind, body and spirit. Allow the reality of this truth to wash over you – to fill up your innermost being, bind you, hold you, carry you and settle inside you. You are heroes of a unique kind, taking a journey down a very winding road. With uncertainty around every curve, you rise to the occasion with grace.
When you hear those voices of defeat speaking to you, tell yourself that you’re not defeated by this. You’re only learning to maneuver on a different path. Realizing this is not defeat, yet quite the opposite – it’s empowering. When we’re stuck, we can’t move forward. We miss the things right in front of us, which could help us to find a better quality to our lives. You are strong, so allow this truth to pour over you. Know that living life, in a different way, is not giving in or giving up.
When you find yourself in that place of, “I should try to work” or “I should be able to do more,” stop and say, “I deserve to be treated with love and respect.”  It’s an ongoing process, so be gentle with yourself – even in your acceptance of acceptance.


About the author: Clarissa Shepherd is founder of the uplifting Fellow Travelers: Support and Chat (ME/CFS/FM) online Facebook support group and author of the book of natural healing:
USA – 
Find Your Way: A Guide to Healing While Living With Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

Europe – Find Your Way: A Guide to Healing While Living With Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

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15 thoughts on “Accepting and Surviving Chronic Illness”

  1. LindaK1943 says:

    This article is so valuable. When you are first diagnosed, after not even understanding what has happened to you, comes how do I do this? Clarissa has laid out the route to follow. She is so knowledgeable because she has been there. Thank you Clarissa for helping others with you experience in dealing with this life.

  2. cfaye says:

    Thank you so much for you kind comments. This illness does cause us to feel lost in a world that seems to get smaller and smaller. Finding others who understand and care, is essential.

  3. AubreyDraco says:

    Thanks Clarissa. I’m sharing this one with my husband via email.
    Validation. You are so encouraging.

    1. cfaye says:

      Aubrey I hope this brings a new understanding for your hubby. Sending blessings.

  4. AutoimmuneArthritis-Anthony says:

    While reading your important article, I was remembering back so many years ago when I was told that I could no longer work due to three Autoimmune Diseases. (ie: Autoimmune Arthritic Diseases) My work as a Minister & as a full service Hotel Manager/Management Trainer of over 30 yrs., had become one of my vital identities. I was a husband and a father too, yet my work took up so much of my time and creative energy. I loved all of my work and the thought of losing my work meant losing so much of myself. I couldn’t even pray. All I could see was darkness. I fell into a clinical pit of depression.

    That clinical depression lasted 2 long years. Mentally, I knew that the Light of Christ still existed within me, yet I could not see it or sense it. All I could do was remind myself that I KNEW it was still there and I had to work myself out of this deep, dark hole. Yet, I didn’t really know how even with help from a Psychiatrist. I felt lost, lonely and oh, so alone as I was divorced having no one around me to help uplift me.

    I kept praying even though I could not feel Christ close to me. Yet, I KNEW he was still there. Thank God or I would have taken my life. I thought about taking my life more than once, but I could never do that because I KNEW the Light of Christ would eventually return to my Spiritual senses. It was a living hell!

    After 2 yrs or so, I did crawl out of that deep, black crevice of depression and the Light of Christ lit up my life, once more. In order to get there, I had to learn to adjust, adapt and then accept that I was now a disabled man with oh so many physical limitations.

    I learned so much along the way…

    I discovered another way to be of service to the Lord and in so doing, the Light illuminated my life once more.

    Remember as Clarissa stated so well…

    Adjust-Adapt-Accept!!! And then we continue to adjust, adapt and accept every day of our lives. Yet, if you are a Christian, please always KNOW that the Lord has another Life for you in service to others. Waiting on the Lord is the most difficult or certainly was for me. Yet when the timing was in perfect-order, my life became so much more than it had ever been before in so many ways. And so it continues forward today.

    Am I still challenged daily? Absolutely! Do I remain lonely. Yes, I do, at times. Yet, my work of service has expanded beyond measure. This is so gratifying, stimulation and satisfying.

    This is one man’s TRUTH spoken! So, never-ever give up, my friends. Life & Light carry forward…

    You are on the mount where Eagles learn to fly. Let Go & Let God!

    Rev. Anthony

    1. cfaye says:

      What a beautiful testimony. I too have been to the darkness with my illness. Many years being bed bound. My heart goes out to your. I agree we continue to adjust, adapt and accept every day of our lives. We also grieve our loss and move ever forward. Blessings to you.

  5. Splits says:

    Thank you for your posts. I have been best friends with someone for almost 30 years. My dear friend has been suffering from fiber myalgia along with several other debilitating ailments for the past 15 years. What I, along with other close friends, have struggled with is patience and understanding for her ailments. We want her physically to be healed. Through our frustration and lack of understanding, we have emotionally caused her pain unknowingly. Now I know. I want to understand what it must be like to be trapped in a body that will never be well. I want to explain to my other friends what she’s going through emotionally, spiritually and physically. Can anyone recommend a book that can enlighten us???

    1. cfaye says:

      Blessings to you. So many people don’t try to understand our illness. People walk away. How wonderful of you to stay and care.

    2. lallerb says:

      “How to Be Sick: A Buddhist Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers” by Toni Bernhard is the most helpful book I’ve ever read. It’s not a Buddhist book, for those of you who might be put off by that. It’s just a great book to help with ending emotional suffering around illness. My friends and family have all read it, and they said it helped them to understand what the chronically ill have to deal with. I’ve given this book as a gift to a number of other sufferers.

  6. RitaAlice says:

    Hi everyone.
    I follow the protical from the book ” What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About About Fibromyalgia”. By Paul St Ammand and Claudia Marek. .
    Are any of you following this diet or a different one that makes you feel better ?

    1. cfaye says:

      I also have a book with many techniques to help healing. There are many things that can improve our quality of life.
      – Find Your Way: A Guide to Healing While Living With Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

  7. Samadrian says:

    For the woman looking for a good book to help her understand what it’s like to live with a chronic illness, I would highly recommend a book called Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired: Living with Invisible Chronic Illness (New Edition). It’s a wonderful book that every friend and family member should read to be able to better understand what it’s like to live with one of these illness’. The author’s are Paul Donoghue and Mary Siegel.

    1. cfaye says:

      I also have a book with many healing techniques and its made very simple. You may like to add it to the one you’re reading.
      – Find Your Way: A Guide to Healing While Living With Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

  8. cfaye says:

    I’m so glad this was of help. My heart goes out to anyone who suffers. Thank you so much for your kind words of support.

  9. TammyF. says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful, uplifting testimonial!
    I truly needed to read such truthful words!
    I am currently in the deep dark hole depression stage & crawling out of it is very difficult due to my own multiple health issues & many of the people in my life either do not believe in my illnesses or believe in me.
    So I applaud you in sharing your story in order to show how dark these illnesses can be & where it can take us, into the pits of Hell.
    I will take what you said & learn from it! And pray that God leads me to a different, a better place!
    Bless yiu heart & blessings to God for showing you the way back so you could bring a bigger, important, life altering experience that can lead people like me back into the light & joy of living!

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