Loving Myself Through Every Stage of My Illness
I wish I could say that I have loved myself through every stage of psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, and endometriosis, but I haven’t. In fact, there were times when I absolutely detested my body and self. My life with chronic pain began years before my PsA diagnosis in 2003 and throughout this time I have learned a lot about myself and body. I have learned that hating my body is not worth the energy it takes and more importantly how to love myself no matter what my chronic illnesses decide to do.
One season at a time
My chronic life has been filled with seasons. There have been seasons of sorrow, pain, destruction, and believe it or not, healing. Instead of accepting each season for what it was and learning how to adapt to it, even if only temporarily, I fought them by forcing my body to do what it couldn’t. I held onto unrealistic ideas of how my life should have been at that moment. Had I loved myself during those toughest seasons, I could have made them a little less rough by making adjustments to how I was living and by asking for help. I had to learn how to embrace what I could do when I could do it. This also meant having to accept what I couldn’t do. Learning to live my life one season at a time didn’t mean that I had given up, it just meant that I was willing to do what it took to live the life I wanted without constantly crashing and burning. I am currently in a season of healing. Will it last? I have no clue, but I won’t let the uncertainty of tomorrow stop me from doing what I can today.
Loving is caring
In order to love myself I had to learn how to practice self-care. For me this entails exercising regularly, making better food choices, not indulging in food, beverages, or even activities that increase my pain, and listening to my body. If my body wants a nap, I let it have one. I address and tend to symptoms the moment they begin instead of waiting until my entire body is screaming out in pain. Self-care means not allowing a flare or tough season to be a reason to eat nothing but junk food or to not exercise. I may have to find a more suitable form of exercise, but unless I want to die an early death, daily movement of some sort is necessary.
Is it easy to love myself at every stage of my illnesses? Not one bit, but some of the roughest seasons I experienced would have been a heck of a lot worse had I not learned to love myself. It took being able to find joy in some of my darkest days that brought me to where I am today. I haven’t given up hope for additional improvement or a cure, but no amount of improvement will ever be enough if I am unable to find a way to live, laugh, and love myself through the dark seasons.
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