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7 Things I Learned From Being Sick

7 Things I Learned From Being Sick

Chronic illness or life-threatening illness can really blow your mind. It can knock the wind out of your sails, but you can also learn things about yourself and about life in general. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past decade — through my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and triple-negative breast cancer.

1. Illness is awkward. I’m not talking about having a cold or the flu or even a broken bone. I’m talking about life changing, in-your-face illness. It’s a reminder of how fragile we really are; it’s a reminder of our mortality. Some people have trouble figuring out what to do or say, and those of us who are ill aren’t necessarily any better at dealing with it. Let’s give each other some slack as we fumble our way through.

2. Life is all about change. Without change, life would be stagnant. Whether you’re ready for it or not, change will come. Sometimes, change makes life better in ways we could have never imagined. Sometimes, change is not for the better. Sometimes, it feels like the whole world is crashing down on us. The thing is, the world will carry on with us or without us, so we best pull ourselves together.

3. You can be a positive person without sticking your head in the sand. Living with a positive outlook can do amazing things for our bodies and our spirits. That doesn’t mean you have to go around with a fake smile all the time or pretend everything’s peachy when it’s not. We’re all entitled to a full range of human emotions. Get angry. Be sad. Go ahead and have a good cry. Just don’t let it stick around beyond its usefulness. Hanging on to negativity only helps it fester and it’ll rob you of strength.

4. Not everyone will ‘get you’ or your illness. Not everyone will try. Don’t knock yourself out trying to get them to understand, because it doesn’t matter. You probably don’t get everyone else, either, so be careful not to judge too quickly or too harshly. We can never truly walk in someone else’s shoes.

5. Less is more. It sounds trite, but when it comes right down to it, the simplest things can have the greatest meaning. A smile, a hug, the laugh of a child. When you’re sick for a long time, or when you’re fighting for your life, you begin to recognize busyness for the sake of busyness; ditch pointless time sucks, and put things in perspective.

6. Feeling good is a relative thing. Our bodies are as important as our spirits. There’s definitely a mind/body connection, and it’s a powerful thing. Our mood can affect our health, but our health can also affect our mood. When you’ve been ill for a long time, feeling good is just a matter of degree. You can have aches and pains, but still feel good because you feel better today than you did yesterday. Being mindful of that is good for body and spirit.

7. Our time is now. We can’t do a damn thing about yesterday and we can only plan so much for tomorrow. What we do have is today. Right now. This moment. Whatever our circumstances, this is the only moment in which we can truly live…and life is precious.

Related Reading
Feeling GOOD. Isn’t That the Crux of it All?
Still Living, Laughing, and Loving Despite That Look
Off the Top of My Head…Literally

Photo: David De Lossy, photographer | Thinkstock

Read more: Blogs, Family, General Health, Health, Inspiration, Living with MS, Spirit

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

161 comments

+ add your own
9:37AM PDT on Aug 17, 2014

Your feelings are yours alone, no one will ever truly understand. Get used to it.

1:41PM PDT on May 28, 2014

Sage advise, thanks for the reminder!

1:41PM PDT on May 28, 2014

Sage advise, thanks for the reminder!

2:52PM PDT on May 27, 2014

Ty

10:10AM PDT on May 23, 2014

Thanks for sharing .

8:38PM PDT on May 20, 2014

Thank you!

12:53PM PDT on May 12, 2014

Thanks for sharing !

6:25AM PDT on May 11, 2014

arigato

2:54AM PDT on May 11, 2014

I also have Multiple Sclerosis and think your missing the feelings of worthlessness and helplessness resulting from the loss of future dreams, especially when you have a highly unpredictable disease that progresses at various rates over time.

2:20AM PDT on May 11, 2014

Thank you for sharing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Thanks for the information.

Great share, thanks.

Worthwhile advice.

Thanks for posting.

Yep. Eat them before they bloom and turn bitter.

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