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10 Life Lessons I Learned from My Chronic Illness

Nobody thinks about their health until they have poor health. This used to be me. In high school I began to experience a variety of unusual, painful, and tiring symptoms. I visited countless doctors, underwent numerous procedures, and was given an abundance of medications that were supposed to make me “feel better.” Years went by and my doctors and I continually worked towards finding a solution that would work best for my busy life, while being as effective as possible. When I look back on this process the one word that comes to mind is: emotional. I was not used to being poked with needles and being asked such personal questions, yet I had to. Now that I am older and have gone through all the formerly “uncomfortable” processes, I can honestly say I am grateful for each experience. I learned not only more about myself, but essential life lessons as well, they are:  

1. Flexibility is essential.

You have to come to terms with the fact that you cannot simply plan your life out years in advance and have everything unfold exactly how you want it to. Learning to be okay with the unpredictability of life’s circumstances will not only alleviate much unnecessary stress, but it gives you freedom you never realized you had.

​2. Ask Questions.

The best thing you can do if you are unsure, in any situation, is to humbly ask. No question is too small or too insignificant. If you want to get anywhere in life you have to be brave enough to ask for clarification and to ask for help.

3. There is more to life than being healthy.

The term “healthy” is different for each person. Some days “healthy” means staying in bed instead of going to the gym because your body is just too exhausted. Other days, it means eating sodium filled chicken noodle soup because that is all your stomach can handle. Your physical health, the way you feel, is more important than killing yourself at the gym or eating “clean,” only for your body to become even more rundown.

4. Your illness does not define you.

Just because a person in a fancy white coat labeled you as having an “illness” does not mean it has to control your life. You are what you choose to be, and your “illness” only has as much power over your life as you allow it to.

5. There are other people experiencing the same thing as you.

 You are not the only one struggling. Finding people with similar experiences to you gives you an automatic support group. These people will know exactly what you are going through; they will cheer for you and comfort you throughout your journey.

6. It is okay to say “no.”

One of the best things I learned to do was to say “no.” Do not be afraid to say “no” to a night out with friends or to a preplanned commitment. There will always be other opportunities.If you do not want to do something, or know you physically should not, speak up for yourself.

7. Be open.

Having a closed mind in any situation is not going to get you very far. Be willing to listen to what people have to say, in most cases they genuinely do care about you and are putting your best interest at heart.

8. Not everyone is going to understand, and that is okay.

There will be people you encounter who will blatantly tell you that you live your life too passively or that the food you eat is “weird.” Ignore them. Regardless of what you do there are always going to people judging your decisions, it is inevitable. Accept this and move on. Everything will be okay.

9. Be kind to yourself.

There are too many other factors in life that bring you down and make you feel bad about yourself, the worst thing you can do is feed into this. Treat yourself the same way you would treat your best friend. The way you treat yourself has so much power over your overall confidence, mood, and perspectives.

10. You are stronger than you think.

To you, the struggles you face may seem normal or insignificant, but if you were to look at them from an outsider’s perspective, you would be amazed to see everything you have gone through. Yes, times have been tough. And yes, they will continue to be, but you are strong and capable. Your unwavering resiliency makes you that way. You are strong.

I am a senior at Millersville University studying in Elementary and Special Education, with a minor in International Studies. I am new to Her Campus and am excited to begin this journey! I am a coffee addict, Crohnie, professonial shopper, emergent tea lover, dog lover and Pinterest enthusiast. I like to spend my free time with my friends, traveling to new places, and drinking lots of good coffee. 
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