A Lesson I Learnt From Having A Chronic Illness That Everyone Needs To Learn

Lesson Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness has a huge impact on your life. It pushes you to your very limits and then pushes you a little further.

Living with Ulcerative Colitis for the past seven years has been a test and it’s only now since I’ve worked up the courage to talk about it that I’ve truly spent the time reflecting on my journey. 

 

In particular, reflecting on the hard times but also focusing on all the positive impacts it’s had over the years.

Actually to be honest, when I look back, I don’t see any negatives.

It’s made me the person I am today.

It’s made me stronger, more daring and more willing to try new things but there’s one particular thing it’s shown me that I think EVERYONE needs to learn.

You’re A Lot Stronger Than You Think

“Once you’ve taken a few punches and realise you’re not made of glass, you don’t feel alive unless you’re pushing yourself as far as you can go.” Green Street Hooligans

It’s funny how the little things can stick and over the past few days the above quote from Green Street Hooligans is one of them.

Except to me and most other people, it has nothing to do with getting punched repetitively.

Instead, it’s pushing through everything that life throws at you.

It’s About Getting Back Up After You’ve Fallen

And doing it over and over and over again…

The first time this really made any sense was 2011, when I put up with Ulcerative Colitis for a full year before I told anyone. Including parents, doctors and friends. No one knew.

I was 56kg. Extremely Iron Deficient and throwing up constantly but I still pushed through. I still went to school. I didn’t use it as an excuse. This was mostly due to being scared of facing the facts and was a very stupid idea but looking back now it was the first time I realised that our bodies and our minds can put up with a lot more crap than we think.

The second time, the time that I decided I was never going to let Ulcerative Colitis run my life again, was the worst.

I was bedridden for 3 months. Back to 56 kg’s and had joint pains.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain the extent of the pain but I’ll try…

My shoulder was stuck up around my ear (like putting your head to your shoulder but keeping your neck straight). I couldn’t lower it. I couldn’t even move my fingers. It was every single joint and they all hurt, every second of the day.

I had to sleep up right, every night and moving my leg from on the bed to over the side of the bed to stand up, took about 15 minutes.

Every time I sat down.

Every morning.

Everyday.

I won’t go into the embarrassment of going to school, but it played a huge role in those years. Where everyone wants to fit in and everything is embarrassing.

It was hell.

At this point, I truly realised that we can put up with much more than we think.

Thankfully thats as bad as it got and thats when I adopted the quote I live by:

If you don’t take control of your life, someone or something else will.

You see, going through those hard times were critical to me when I started up businesses, started writing and started sharing my stories.

It made those challenges that come with doing something risky look like a walk in the park.

I figure, If I can put up with that how worse can it get?

Turns out it really can’t.

It helped put everything into perspective.

Stop Worrying About The Small Things

It particularly helps put this into perspective:

Once you’ve realised how far you can be pushed, you realise how fair you can go.

  • Being scared of trying new things, is stupid.
  • Being scared of being rejected, is particularly stupid.
  • Being scared of being judged, is stupid.

See a theme?

All those things you spend your time worrying about are things you’ve built up in your mind to the point that they’re stopping your progress. They’re not actually issues, you just have a mindset that they are.

Look at the above three points with these perspectives:

  • If you fail at something new. Who cares? At least you tried. At least you took control of your life and stepped outside your comfort zone.
  • If someone rejects you. If someone says ‘no’ to your request. Who cares? Find a different path and try again. They were either going to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • So what if people start to talk behind your back because you decide you want to case your goals instead of getting drunk every weekend. Why do you care? Honestly. Get rid of them, move on and hang out with people who encourage you.

You need to stop spending so much time thinking about all the ‘what ifs’ or everything that ‘could’ happen and start focusing on actually acting. 

To put it in the harshest way possible:

If you don’t die, you’ll be okay.

I want you to spend some time thinking about that.

I’ve adopted a process I use when I’m about to do something ‘scary’ and that’s asking myself:

Will I die?

I swear, It’s got me through so many of those ‘scary’ times.

I’ll ask myself, is there a possibility that I’ll die. If the answers no, I’ll do it.

Suddenly, sending that email, saying ‘no’ to friends or chasing my goals seems like a piece of cake.

Have you got a time you stepped out of your comfort zone? How did you learn from it? Please leave a comment or send me an email!

 

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