Interestingly, today’s blog post topic was decided on weeks ago. I say “interestingly” because Tuesday was the worst pain day that I’ve had since I had knee surgery, and Wednesday was the after effect of Tuesday. No hyperbole; that’s the truth. So how can I accept this body that’s trying to destroy itself – quite literally – and not hate it while living with chronic illness? How can I accept the excruciating pain that comes with that body?
First of all, I do not mean that I believe that there is nothing I can do for my body. Not at all. I believe that I should fight for finding a treatment that works, that I should everything I can to feel better, that I should treat my body well. However, I believe that living with chronic illness – in my case living with an autoimmune disease where my body attacks itself – doesn’t mean that I should not love my body or that I should hate it. I accept that this is what’s going on. And besides, as of right now there’s no cure, so it doesn’t make sense to reject the reality of my body.
Because everyone deserves to love themselves. Everyone is worthy of that, including you. Accept that your body is sick, and accept that just because you are sick does not mean that you are not worthy of love, especially from yourself. You deserve it. You really do.
But even more than that, I want to pour my limited energy into productive means. I would rather spend my time researching treatments, anti-inflammatory foods, the best exercise for people with arthritis, etc. than by being angry at my body for not working correctly. We’re not sure exactly why I developed inflammatory arthritis, but there’s no way to erase it, so there’s no point in spend a large amount of time angry with my body. If I only have a certain number of “spoons” per day, I would rather spend them in physical therapy than by hating my body.
Now, if you don’t have an official diagnosis yet – or at least one that you think fits your symptoms – I would advise accepting the things you can’t change but also fighting tooth and nail to find a doctor who takes you seriously and helps you find your correct diagnosis. Accept that maybe you can’t change certain things with a diagnosis or medication because you deserve it.
First of all, identify what you are mad at – because you are 100% allowed to feel mad about your chronic illness. Be mad at the disease itself, psoriatic arthritis in my case. But don’t blame your body as a whole. The way I explain it, my immune system is broken. It thinks that my joints are an invading army like bacteria, and so my immune system attacks my joints. I hate this disease, I really do, but I don’t hate my joints. Occasionally, I do hate my body. But I try to save that for the bad days.
So how can you accept your body while living with chronic illness? Identify the specific issues and what’s causing them and be mad at those if you have to be mad at something. Also, treat your body right, and treat yourself. Your life is hard enough; you deserve nice things when you can. Loving your body regardless of how you feel is important. You deserve love, especially from yourself.
Like this post? Check out:
How To Talk about Your Chronic Illness, Relationships and Chronic Pain, Chronic Illness as a Grad Student, On Living with Chronic Pain