Learning to Cope With Illness Isn’t A Straight Path
Last updated: June 2023
It’s a misconstrued assumption that those who have spent years with an illness eventually unlock some secret in managing it. I’m here to say that simply just isn’t true. There is no A-to-B scenario. Living with an illness comes with many unpredictable bumps along the way.
Coping strategies are important but aren’t always guaranteed
Having a list of coping strategies to fall back onto during these struggles that come with a chronic condition is important in helping keep our heads above water. But there will be times where no matter what we do, something in our lives will shift, and the balance we thought we had will tip over. Suddenly we’re left drowning in a sea of sadness and struggle again. At the end of the day, our bodies are the boss and when they call the shots we have no choice but to follow suit.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed for 6 months or 6 years, chronic pain is chronically painful
I’ve personally struggled with chronic pain for 16 years now, and what I’ve learned after coming out of remission after 8 years is this: pain will always be difficult to cope with and it never gets easier. In my own experience, I actually believe I dealt with the pain better as a child and in my teenage years.
As years go by, not only does it grow more frustrating but responsibilities begin to stack up which can be conflicting when trying to prioritize our overall wellness. Time may pass, but pain will never be easy.
Don’t compare yourself to other spoonies—everyone is dealt a different card
It’s unfair to try and compare our chronic illness journey to others. Although I strongly believe in the importance of community and building relationships with those in similar situations for support, it’s vital not to compare yourself to those around you who may be in “better” circumstances.
Everyone’s bodies, genetics, and immune systems are going to react to treatments and symptoms differently. Just because you share the same illness does not guarantee that a treatment will or won’t work for you! The best thing to do is speak with your doctor, have the willingness to try things out and remember to be patient with yourself.
It’s okay to “give up” and take a break from being strong every so often
Being strong and trying our greatest efforts to push through debilitating symptoms and chronic pain is exhausting. It takes so much mental strength to go day after day experiencing pain, and guess what? You don’t have to be strong all the time. Allow yourself to crumble. Let your body sink into the bed and drench your pillow in tears. Get upset. Feel the frustration. Validate your feelings and the idea that what you are going through is hard! Because it is.
It’s hard to show up every day with strength and I know that very often we feel as if we don’t have a choice. Yet there you go, showing up for yourself every single day. So it’s okay to show up for yourself in a different way every so often by allowing yourself the space and freedom to cry and grieve your health.
Take each day as they come. Good days will come and bad ones will, too. But as long as you are showing up as authentically as you are, and being truthful towards yourself about how you are feeling—you are doing everything that you can, and for that you should be proud.
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?