WILL I EVER GET BETTER?
If you (or someone you love) are new to chronic illness, or still fighting for a diagnosis, this question has probably crossed your mind more than once. Even if you are a seasoned pro, that little voice can pipe up at the most inconvenient of times. Sadly, there is no straightforward answer to this. Chronic means forever, but it doesn’t always mean your body will feel the same every day.
It’s yes and no
You will get better, but also you will get worse, and then better again and then worse. Sounds confusing? It can be, especially as there is often no way of telling when or how that is going to happen. (I know that’s probably a letdown as you came here hoping for some words of wisdom, but before you go back to doom scrolling just give me a minute).
The hardest part is learning to accept where you are now. Whether you are currently in the good part, or stuck in the seemingly never-ending darkness of the bad, accepting what is currently happening is key to peace. And, before you tell me to go take a hike with my toxic positivity, know that I am saying it’s ok for it to just suck right now.
Accepting the good and the bad
Part of acceptance is acknowledging the bad as much as the good. You also need to stop comparing yourself to the well version of yourself. That person was lovely, but you and they are on different paths now and it’s time to let them go, so take as much time to grieve this as you need. There is no set number of days, weeks or years that have to be your grieving timeline and it’s ok to only be ok with it some of the time.
So often we are told the goal for any illness is to ‘get better’ and when it’s not possible it feels like we’ve been cheated. Often this feeling is made worse by people who don’t understand that chronic means forever, so ingrained is the idea of recovery always being an option. Similarly, if a friend or family member is living with a chronic illness you must accept that things will change in your relationship, and follow their lead on how to support them. Having friends and family who are willing to help you through your journey to self-acceptance is a good way to stay positive through what can feel like isolating times. Luckily, with the internet, it’s easier than ever to reach out and find others who understand what living with chronic illness is like in reality, not just in theory.
Build a life you love
Always remember that, despite being chronically ill, you can still build a life you love, even if it looks a bit different to how you thought it would. And, if you are struggling, that’s ok too. Part of acceptance is acknowledging the bad feelings just as much as the good ones. But, even on your worst days, remember it won’t always be like this, things can and will get better, and learning to accept every day with its individual challenges will help you feel empowered.