chronic illness: Are you letting it steal your sunshine? #BeingFibroMom #fibromyalgia #chronicillness

Chronic Illness: Are you letting it steal your sunshine?

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One of the main things that you can guarantee in life is the fact that you cannot predict it. You can’t tell anyone what will happen from one day to another, so it’s important that no matter what you do, you stay as upbeat and positive as you can. You could consider yourself to be the happiest person around with a healthy dose of daily optimism. Of course, not everyone is going to be sunshine and unicorns all the time; even those with their glasses half-full still have a half-empty glass. But when you start to feel a little low, a little out of sync, how do you deal with it?How do you answer someone when they’re asking you how life is going for you? When life is dark like that, it can be hard to know how to  answer. Even if you see a chink of light in the corner of life, you can find it hard to answer that question, especially if you have a chronic illness.

chronic illness: Are you letting it steal your sunshine? #BeingFibroMom #fibromyalgia #chronicillness
created by Brandi Clevinger using the image from © Chikako Kanari at
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When you’re asked “How are you?”

People asking you how you are can be a problem when you are coping with a long-term illness. Not a terminal one, but a ‘medically managed’ one. Chronic illness doesn’t define you; it cannot define you, but whether or not you choose to sugar coat your response is going to make people see you in a certain way that does give you a ‘tag’ of sorts. The truth is that while people can know about your illness and can see how it affects you, they don’t know how it actually feels. They don’t know that chronic illness, for you, needs to be discussed. When they ask how you’re feeling, you want to tell them the deep depths of it, but if you’re talking about it all the time you could bore yourself, let alone anyone else. That’s not to say you should stop discussing how you feel, because chronic illness can be very sneaky with the way that it affects your mental health. People will tell you to stay positive on a daily basis, and yet they will never tell you exactly HOW to do that. They’ll say to smile, but not tell you WHY you should smile. They’ll tell you that things will pick up and get better, but they’ll never tell you WHEN that will happen. You see, people mean well, but how can they know what to say when they don’t know how to deal with your illness themselves?

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It’s not always easy with a chronic illness

We all have heard about the Black Dog, how one moment you can feel normal and happy and full of sunshine. Then that dog creeps in and reminds you why you should feel dark and heavy and empty inside. It’s hard to push back against some days. Everyone will tell you that you should feel positive about life when you are feeling down and depressed due to the burden of a chronic illness. They say to rally and chin up and tally-ho! The thing is, it’s not always easy to stand up and smile in the face of adversity. It’s not easy to know that you have a lifelong battle ahead of you, despite the hard work of companies like, who work tirelessly to try and develop medicines and cures for illness such as yours. Worrying and other negative emotions steal away your sunshine, eating up all the brightness that emanated from you before you knew you were ill. And do you know what? Sometimes, it’s absolutely okay to be down in the dumps. The question is: what are you going to do about that?

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Strengthening the brain

Well, it’s good to know that there are scientists and researchers out there working on ways to help your mental health. Even if you’re dealing with pain every single day, you can manage it better when your mind supports your spirit. It’s very difficult to keep yourself upbeat, when all your brain is telling you to do is sink into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and cry. Neuroscientists dealing in neuroplasticity have recently learned that with cognitive therapies, the brain can essentially ‘rewire’ itself. This means that over time, your brain can reset and push away those negative thoughts and really help you to modify that negative behavior. Much like a muscle that you work hard in the gym, the brain can be worked to strengthen it and become more positive. With positive affirmations every day, you can create positive thinking even when you are at your physical worst and feeling low.


Tips to start thinking positive with a chronic illness

While it may be a total cliché to start thinking positively, and you may think it would never work, try out some of the tips below so that you can start feeling good about yourself – even when the pain is winning.

Accept Your Reality.

One of the biggest reasons for negative behavior is the fact that the reality of your situation is tough to face. You can waste so much of your precious time and energy battling against what is happening, or you can face up to the change in your life and work WITH it, instead. No one wants to actually accept a life of chronic fatigue and daily pain. No one wants to accept a lifetime of medication. The truth, though, is that this medicine and these daily pains are going to be your life for some time. It’s better to move forward and accept it, turning it into something that becomes your new normal and recognizing your new limitations.

Focus On What’s Good.

There will be days – as you know – that you struggle to get yourself out of bed in the morning. The pain can be too much, even while loaded with medicine. But there will be days when the pain is a fraction less, when those added paracetamol doses are working for a change and you feel relatively healthy. The bad days are never permanent, and this is the thing to remember the most. When you’re struggling, and you just want to cry – do so. Cry. Ugly cry it out. But tell yourself that tomorrow will be different. You cannot predict your day to day dealings, so there’s just no use in trying. Look ahead to the good days as much as possible.

Always Push Forward.

Life in general, chronically ill or not, will always knock you back and find a way to make you feel like you’re swimming against the tide. As long as you keep putting in that effort to move forward, you won’t be left behind. It’s going to take some time and you have to understand that there is no finish line in this race. Instead, you have a lifetime of obstacles to constantly avoid, and it doesn’t matter how small the step you take, avoiding those obstacles is not optional. Always look forward – your illness is not going to define you and how you spend your time. Just take it one day at a time and praise yourself for every obstacle that you manage to push through. Forward is the only direction that is going to be worth going for you.

Find Your Joy.

So, your legs and arms hurt just getting out of bed, but how would they feel weightless in water? You have to look at a negative and spin it on its head; make it joyful. Swimming is a good exercise, right? It makes you feel like you don’t weigh a thing, it strengthens your core and it can give you some respite in the heaviness of your own body when it’s not working quite the way that you want it to. You cannot let the negativity of others or your own situation bring you down. You are an important person to the world, or you wouldn’t be in it. Own that and find the joy in every situation in your life going forward. The more that you search for the positives, the better off you will be.

Celebrate The Little Things.

Today, you managed to feel good enough to put your makeup on. How amazing is that? Tomorrow, you may feel like cooking a meal. All of the things that you do day to day that make you feel good should be celebrated. The little victories matter as much as the big ones and the only way that you should handle them is by shouting from the rooftops and celebrating as hard as you can! Try not to get too fixated on the bad days, because bad days are going to happen anyway. Train your brain to view the smaller victories as a major celebration and you’ll be able to succeed.

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These tips could seem quite trite, but the silver lining in a life with chronic illness is going to be your spirit. Are you really going to allow medications and pain and fatigue that your body has to contend with overshadow your sunshine? Definitely, absolutely NOT, thank you very much. There’s just far too much life to enjoy. You’ve just got a challenge on your hands!

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chronic illness: Are you letting it steal your sunshine? #BeingFibroMom #fibromyalgia #chronicillness
created by Brandi Clevinger using the image from © Chikako Kanari at


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