One of the hardest things I’ve found about being diagnosed with a lifelong illness, whether this is a mental illness or a physical one, is the impact that can have on your life and your ability to function. It can change things so much, and while you are finding ways to deal with your symptoms and doing your best to cope, the dreams and goals that you had for your life can be set aside or become unrealistic.
Coming to terms with the reality
Coming to terms with the fact that your life isn’t going to look the way you thought it would is incredibly hard. Realising that you maybe can’t do everything you wanted because of your illness can be tough in so many ways. You can grieve the life you once had before your symptoms kicked in, as well as grieving the life you always dreamt you were going to have in the future. There’s nothing wrong with this grief, it’s important to feel it, to go through it and deal with it so that you can come through the other side and reach a point of acceptance.
Can’t isn’t a bad word
A lot of people think that saying you can’t do something is a bad thing, but it doesn’t mean you have given up. It isn’t a ‘bad’ word. It can mean that you are being realistic about what life with your illness is going to entail, what you are realistically going to be able to do and what you might need to change. You can look at life in a positive way, but it’s also ok to be sad about things that you realistically can no longer do or aim for.
The positive side of things
Once you have reached a point of acceptance, you can focus on the more positive side of things. Having an illness doesn’t stop you from being successful or mean that you have to give up everything, far from it. You can set new goals, find new dreams, perhaps even ones you would have never considered before. You can figure out what you’re able to do and what you’re good at, what you feel you be able to cope with and run with this. You can figure out what your skills are, what you feel comfortable with and focus on those. You can find a new path that will bring you as much satisfaction as the one you had in mind, just in a different way.
You may still be able to achieve the goals you originally had in mind but need to take more time to reach them, ask for more help with them or go about them in a different way. Everyone is different, and whether you are high functioning or not able to do as much as you would like, it’s about doing what is best for you.
Working out what is right for you
Finding out what works for you is what matters; finding your path to happiness and figuring out how you can reach your own goals in a way that works for you. Your illness does not define who you are, and you are still able to have a fulfilled life even if it doesn’t look the way you thought it would, but remember it’s also ok to be sad about the things that you are going through and the dreams that you may have lost.
All of your feelings are valid, you don’t have to feel positive all the time. Having a positive outlook when you are able to and continuing to move forward when you can is amazing. As long as you are doing your best, then that is more than good enough.