Day 13 – The Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge Prompts (#HAWMC) for today is “Open a book. Point to a page. Free write for 10-15 minutes on that word or passage. Post without editing if you can!” When I opened my book, the word I got was “acceptance,” so here goes.
The first step toward acceptance of a chronic illness is admitting that I’m powerless to make that illness go away, or to force my life back to the way it used to be. If I deny that I’m ill, or refuse to admit and adjust to my new limitations, I eliminate possibilities from my life.
This doesn’t mean that I’m powerless to make my life with illness better, or that I have to give up on being happy. Once I’ve admitted I can’t make it go away, and that my life is different; I can look for ways to reduce symptoms and find new ways to do the things I don’t want to give up.
Denial is a “stopper” though. If I won’t admit I’m sick, I can’t take my medication without reminding myself of that fact, so I forget to take my meds and make my problems worse. If I won’t admit my body can no longer handle sitting at the computer for 8 hours at a stretch, I make my pain and fatigue worse and end up in a flare that puts me in bed for days.
Werner Erhard said, “Happiness is a function of accepting what is,” and that is very true. Accepting my illness frees me to find new ways to live my life. It may not be the same as it was before, but it can still be a good life, a happy life.
Accepting that I can’t stay at the computer for hours at a stretch frees me to find new ways of doing what I need to do. Maybe taking my laptop to bed with me is the way to manage, or perhaps I just need to schedule a 5 minute break every hour to get up and stretch. Maybe working at the computer for 30 minutes, then getting up and washing dishes for 30 minutes will resolve the issue; or perhaps I can work at the computer for 2 hours and take a 30 minute break.
Not being able to do things the way they’ve always been done before doesn’t necessarily mean I can’t do them at all, it may only mean I need to find new ways to do them.
Acceptance seems very much like a spiral to me. When I accept that I’m sick, it makes it easier to find new ways of coping. Changes in the way I cope makes living with my illness easier, which makes it easier to accept that illness. That brings me back to the beginning again, but at a different level; perhaps with a different symptom or a new diagnosis, or maybe just with another modification that makes things even easier.
This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J
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