Sometimes the hardest part about having a chronic illness is not knowing what is next. Will I ever feel better? Will the pain ever become bearable? Will I be able to work again? Have all of my plans for the future become dreams rather than achievable goals? It is hard to have a vision for the future when you can barely plan from day to day. It feels pointless to dream, to set goals, to desire more from life. I have watched people I know start their careers, begin to build their future and as much as I am happy for them, I honestly envy what they have. It does sometimes feel like time stood still since I was diagnosed.
So, how do you move forward when you are diagnosed with a chronic illness that will never go away? How can you even begin to plan for the future when you can just about cope with the present? Right now I am still asking myself these questions and am not entirely sure how to answer them but, I have been looking for inspiration.
Since resigning from work last year, I felt like I had lost my sense of purpose. Working full time can result in you getting stuck in an infinite loop of too much work, not enough sleep and a non-existent social life. When I left I found it hard to adjust to life outside of that loop as people I had met along the way began to drift and I no longer had a routine or an income. As much as it may sound like a dream come true, not having to set an alarm and being able to essentially do what you want when you want, it is not. I miss work. Yes, these are words that I never thought would come out of my mouth. I do not miss the constant stress and pressure that came hand in hand with the job but, I miss the sense of belonging and purpose.
It is near impossible to find a work from home jobs that are legitimate and I would know, I have spent many hours scouring the internet looking for one without any luck. It is important to remember that your diagnosis is not the be all and end all and it is important not to dwell on it. The same goes for anyone and everyone that is going through a turbulent time and do not see a way out. You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one. If there is no way out then create your own. Don’t compare yourself to others.
We all have our good times, our bad times, goals and dreams and each one are different from the next. When you feel like you are falling at the first hurdle whilst your friends are racing ahead, it is so easy to measure yourself against them. Your experiences will make you stronger and will better prepare you for obstacles in the future. Sometimes it is hard to even believe that you have any strengths when you spend a lot of time feeling weak and defeated.
It is easy to focus solely on our struggle and pain rather than look at the bigger picture. One thing that has begun to help me believe that I do still have a bright future ahead of me is a Fibromyalgia support group. At these groups find myself surrounded by people that I don’t have to explain myself to and have learnt how to deal with problems that I am only just facing. Surrounding yourself with people who understand your situation not only gives you people to talk to but, also gives you a sense of belonging.
Right now, instead of focusing on what you don’t have, instead of focusing on the pain and fatigue, just focus on the present and belonging in the moment. You can lose yourself in all of the stresses and worries of everyday life that sometimes you can forget to take time out to appreciate the little things. There are so many beautiful reasons to be happy and although being in these situations can make you feel like you have reached a dead end, there is a way of building yourself up to be bigger and better than ever. My journey has only just begun for me but, I am determined not to let my condition define who I am and my future.