For those of us who face chronic illness each day, thinking positive is not an easy task. It's not as if we dwell on the negative, yet the negative finds us. We not only deal with daily pain and the many other symptoms – we also deal with all of life's ups and its downs. I feel we do a magnificent job surviving a long list of daunting symptoms.
Learning to live within your limitations is not a negative thing; it’s a way to rearrange your life so you can live to your fullest potential. Finding new ways of doing daily tasks is a very creative thing. I find it amazing that you manage so well. You find new ways of healing, new ways of coping, new ways to entertain yourself, new talents that you didn't know you had.
Your journey may be very difficult. It may be very long and tiresome, yet you do it with such grace. A grace like I've never seen before. You're learning a new way to live, a new way of thinking, and ways of doing it soulfully. You've learned how to rethink what being productive means to you now, and you acknowledge that everyone's yardstick for measuring what’s productive isn't the same, and that's OK. You're still alive and moving ever forward as you learn to maneuver this new way of life. You've accepted the challenge and looked it right in the face. I call you—courageous.
You are a vital human being. This illness is not of your own making, and it does not define you. It just is. You show your strength and courage with each breath you take, every obstacle you overcome, and every new way you learn to cope. You are fearless, even in your pain.
Now I want you to take this truth into each day. Allow it to cover your entire being. There will be those in your life that don't, or won't, understand what you face each day. Chronic illness has taught me this…
Some people will fill you up,
Others will drain you of energy better spent,
So, choose wisely.
The reality is you are wonderful—just as you are. Your bravery is unparalleled, because you live it in solitude. Believe in yourself, as you renew in hope. Just as the season's change, so does your strength. Hope, courage, and renewal define you. They are in you, beside you, in front of you. Know this, and let the beacon, your bright light, guide you, hold you, and sustain you. You are brave. I applaud the person you are.
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