Every person with chronic illness knows what it is to have limitations. Whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or all three. Sometimes those limitations become unbearable and it’s easy to fall into depression.
Many MS patients know what it is to begin to lose hope. Many have fought for years for a diagnosis, many times being told that it is all in their heads. Having a chronic illness is hard enough without the added stress put on by not having answers, by dealing with insurance companies that refuse to pay, and family, friends and others who believe that you’re just lazy or not trying hard enough. The costs of managing a chronic illness makes it hard to make ends meet. It’s hard to get through the day to day struggles of life when you’re whole; let alone, to do so when you have other things, like chronic illness, working against you as well.
It is easy to become overwhelmed, to lose faith, to think that it’s not worth the day to day battle, but if you think of all the positive things that can come out of those struggles, you’ll realize that it’s not only worth the struggle, but that the struggles are actually blessings. Every struggle that we endure and conquer, makes us a stronger person, a better role model, a better teacher, and a greater asset to our family, community, and the world. Think of those who you have looked up to in your lifetime. Did their successes come without struggles or failure? Would their stories have had as big of an impact if they had been handed their victories? The answer is an overwhelming “no.” All of the greatest stories are those of overcoming adversity, of struggle & victory, of hardship and prosperity. Having a chronic illness is no different.
Your story has all the makings of the greatest in history, now is the time to take charge of your own destiny. The sooner you decide to take charge of your own life, your own health, to embrace your limitations and to overcome the obstacles that are standing in your way, the better your life will be. Now, I know that there are certain obstacles that come with chronic illness that cannot be overcome, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot learn to minimize the negative effect that they have on your life.
For instance, chronic fatigue is a obstacle that I face on a daily basis. Not only is fatigue debilitating for me, it is, at times, life-threatening because I fall asleep while eating, driving, ect. I have tried every prescription medication known to man to manage it and have had no results. After years of doctor’s appointments focusing on managing fatigue, my doctor had finally lost hope, conceding that the only thing left for me to do was to sleep when tired, even if that meant sleeping my life away, 14-18 hrs a day. I wept, for days, thinking that my life was over. How could I, a wife and mother of three, sleep 14-18 hours a day? What would my husband think? What would my children think?
I gathered my witts, so to say, and started investigating alternative ways to manage fatigue. There were many: diet, exercise, alternative medicine, acupuncture, ect. I began to make a list of my viable options and committed to trying each of them. I started with diet, focusing on eating a balanced diet and on foods which are said to minimize fatigue. Although I had some success, the results were not what I was looking for. I added in exercise, daily yoga and walking. I slowly added and subtracted the different things until I found a combination that worked for me. While it is still an obstacle that I must deal with, it is at least manageable most days, which, to me, is a victory.
This is what each of us must do. We must refuse to give up. We must fight for our own health and our own futures. Refuse to submit to the outcomes that others have determined. We must commit ourselves to finding the information that we need to better ourselves, our health, and our lives. If you won’t fight for your future, who will? Remember that doing something, even something small, is better than doing nothing at all.