When our bodies seem to take control in such a negative way, we find ourselves holding onto the idea that we will be able to grasp onto a moment when our bodies are completely back on track. We believe we could potentially get to our normal lives and maintain that level of health as we keep moving forward within a certain standard of life. With chronic illness our bodies are constantly adapting to our surroundings, our intake, our personal thoughts, our experiences and the actual realities of our body functioning differently. Sometimes we are able to and capable of finding that moment, but the majority of the time people tend to find themselves holding onto those moments for a little bit before they disappear again, looking differently each time they appear. Each element of our bodies is going to respond differently, making it so we don’t know how it will respond to treatments, how it will respond to the actual illness itself, or how it will respond to life. Yet we hold onto an idea of what we believe our own lives could look like, along with figuring out how to live those lives within the moments we get, while trying to figure out what is really going on.
What does the idea of “our bodies are constantly changing within chronic illness” actually means?
Our bodies are ever-changing for a multitude of reasons: getting older, what we expose ourselves to, how great of a steward we are of our body, how our body shifts and responds to different elements, what treatments we try, what our symptoms actually look like, what the progression of your chronic illness looks like, and more. We may even have days or weeks where we feel like we may have figured it out and then all of a sudden something changes or shifts. Chronic illness creates a reality amongst us that makes us understand dramatic changes within ourselves. Good days versus bad days, even good moments versus bad moments.
Even when we feel like our bodies are a complete mess and we try to press through those moments in fast forward, we still have the hope that it will change to a better self. We understand that now we are learning constantly the subtle nuances of how our bodies are shifting and changing based on this new element within our body, and yes it so sucks, but we are also trying to figure out how to live life the best within the ever-changing body, so that our body doesn’t affect every aspect within our lives negatively.
What does it feel like to be in our bodies when it comes to change?
Below is a simple glimpse into what it may feel like to live within a body dealing with chronic illness as our bodies shift:
– There is a stronger awareness of what it means to have physical constraints, and the concept of living within a cavity that we don’t have ultimate control over.
– We want to try to get to an end point where we feel back to “normal,” where we don’t have any symptoms or at least are able to maintain a life we previously have chosen, without limitations within the chronic illness frame, while also trying to realize this is maybe our new normal.
– We are constantly trying to figure out what the best new normal is, whatever that may mean to you. Knowing even the new normal shifts and changes.
– There is a constant push of our bodies to go through a lot in order to seek freedom from the symptoms. We constantly are seeking solutions and willing to try almost anything to figure out something to be a release for symptoms.
– Constantly having the strength of trying to understand what it will look like to be “ok” and seeking a great rhythm, while knowing something could easily happen again.
– It does not affect only our body, but every aspect of our life and how we interact with this world, knowing plans could be affected and our ability to complete tasks changing based on how we feel.
What does “living well” even mean and how can we adapt to that when our bodies are constantly changing?
Every single one of us have a different version of “living well.” Sometimes living well is being content, seeking happiness, being able to enjoy the people around you, and indulging in simple aspects of life like bathing in the sun or drinking the best cup of coffee. While others seek a different type of living, creating a standard for themselves and those around them. They may want as specific career, certain type of family, the ability to climb a mountain, or the ability to seek the unknown without any limitations. The aspect of each individual is chronic illness doesn’t change what we may desire for living well, but ultimately our definition of living well shifts based on our perspective of living with chronic illness. It does not have to be a bad thing, and some may say the shift of what living well means is actually a good thing.
Figuring out what the future may hold and how to be able to live our best within that can be one of the greatest challenges, because you are seeking your life’s future. Understanding what it means to take care of yourself and move forward at the same time, understanding that we can’t pause our life and we are trying to figure out the best way to maintain it and love life through the unwanted storm given. It means that chronic illness will not take away your identity and who you are as a person, it won’t even take away your ability to enjoy life, but it does play a role on the limitations of how you enjoy your life.
What is your version of “living well”?
What are some ways to make the process and changes a little easier?
– Don’t ever doubt your ability.
– Give yourself the time you need and the life you deserve. You are still the same person you were pre-chronic illness, with similar interests and even more knowledgeable than before. So allow yourself to understand that even though your body changed, that doesn’t mean you deserve anything less. You deserve to be loved, you deserve to seek out the best treatment options to figure out how to make some days less worse then others, you deserve to still take interest in things you did before, even if it looks different.
– Evaluate your body constantly, so you know what is going on, what rhythms you can may expect and what to do if there is a change.
– Figure out what “living well” means to you. Write down ten things that would make you feel that you could live life well, then work on one that seems to be reachable this week and work towards bringing that into your life.
– Be patient with yourself. You may not know how you are going to feel day to day, but knowing that and taking the steps to care for your body the best you can within those moments is so important.
We don’t want to find our best selves within our past, we want to find our best selves within our future. Meaning although you have a chronic illness, it doesn’t stop your life, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t have an incredible life. Yes, it will bring the greatest challenges ahead of you that you have every experienced and it will push your limits beyond what you thought you were capable of, but finding happiness despite the insane amount of stress around you can be possible, even though our bodies are constantly changing and figuring out what is going on with ourselves.
Question for you!
What does “the new normal” mean to you?
T r u l y , L i n d y
Photo Source: @LindyJacoby