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Feeling Broken When Living With Chronic Illness

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Editor’s note: In recognition of Awareness Day/Month, each year in May Clarissa Shepherd shares a special message of inspiration and encouragement in honor of all the brave souls living with Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, or Lyme Disease. Thank you, Clarissa!

So many of us living with the daily struggle of chronic illness feel we’re broken in some way. We feel such painful isolation from our previous way of living. This type of emotional pain brings about the feeling as if “we’re not enough.”

For years society has judged people for what they do. This has clouded our thinking, causing us to feel we must live a certain way or be able to do certain things in order to be whole. Many of us can no longer work on a job. Some aren’t able to care for our basic needs. We may be extremely limited as to what we can do in comparison to what we did before getting ill.

We learn from an early age that we should be productive, however, our perspective of what is productive must now be looked at in a new way. We’re working very hard each and every day––some days harder than when we were at what is considered a “job.” The many challenges we face have built us into warriors of a unique kind.

The true issue is, we don’t always feel courageous. We still have a need inside to live as we once did when our health was good. We don’t know how to find our way in this different body. Due to the numerous life-altering symptoms, we feel unable to properly cope emotionally or physically. This is when we find ourselves in a place of feeling broken. We don’t feel whole. We feel lost. We don’t feel the connection to life as we did before illness.

It’s not an easy road. So in this, know you’re not alone. Many times we feel no one can understand. While those in our lives may want to understand, they can’t truly do so unless they’ve walked a similar path. Living this way of life is the truth of our reality.

We may hear from others that we need to keep a positive outlook. The truth is, we keep an extremely positive outlook. We get up the numerous times we get knocked down, we move forward even in our pain, and we smile when we’re crying inside. I call that living positively. We can be holding onto a good attitude and not be in a happy place. The two are mistaken for the same thing. With all we carry with us on a daily basis, we still keep the hope for better days and for healing to find us.

Know that you’re not broken. You’re a person who has been required to take on great challenges that would bring many to their knees. You do it with grace, kindness, and a need to reach out to find what may help you and help others on this road less traveled. I call this amazing!

When you have this feeling of being broken, remember you’re walking a path with a community of special and enduring people. You’re strong, brave, and courageous, even when you don’t feel as if you are. Our lives have taken such a drastically different direction, yet on this new journey, we may find a place for ourselves. We may find new ways to express ourselves, new hobby’s, new and special people who truly understand our challenges.

As we face each day, it may help us to take a moment to look at the real truth of who we are. Just a moment to tell ourselves, we’re not broken, instead we’re weaving a bright and new pattern of the beautiful hearts and unique human beings we’re yet to become.


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: Find Your Way: A Guide to Healing While Living With Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. (Europe book link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Find-Your-Way-Clarissa-Shepherd/dp/1439244928/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1337393118&sr=1-1)

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