For most individuals, illness is something that comes and goes throughout their lifetimes, but there are long stretches of unquestionable good health in between. You get a virus, but then your body clears the virus. An infection occurs, but you get some antibiotics, and it goes away. Most people get to enjoy long periods of time when they have what we call a “clean bill of health.” Everybody wants that clean bill of health because it means you can stop worrying about being sick. And some would argue that’s the hardest part about illness: the mental component. “Don’t worry. You’re all better” is what everybody wants to hear. But not everybody gets to hear that. In fact, some individuals never get to hear that.
If you live with a chronic condition that can’t be cured and must simply be managed, it’s hard to shake that feeling of “Something is wrong with me.” There can be an icky sensation that stays with you – like a cloud you can’t get out from under – that always makes you feel like something isn’t quite right. Even on days when symptoms are mild or absent, you know the condition lurks within your body. Those with chronic illness can feel it’s very difficult to live in the moment, and not constantly worry about their health. So we consulted a special expert who has a lot of experience helping people with chronic illness. Recie Munson (IG: @WalkWithRee) is both a registered nurse and a yoga instructor so she approaches care from a practical and holistic standpoint. Here is some of her advice on how to be present and still enjoy life, even with a chronic illness.
You are not your body
If you are diagnosed with a condition, your mind may replay thoughts of, “Where did I go wrong?” and “What can I have done differently?” But Munson makes a good point on why those thoughts aren’t very useful. “A diagnosis of chronic disease is not always within the body’s control. Many factors contribute to illnesses such as genetics, environment, lack of access, and systemic issues. The body isn’t connected to your self-worth, value, or wholeness.”