The chronic illness lifestyle is definitely a unique journey for a pain warrior. We go through processes, we change and we grow. Dealing with a chronic illness/pain has developed you one way or another. In this post, I am going to talk about how we as chronic pain warriors evolve.
A while ago I posted this tweet;
“Do you ever have those days when you think about how you USED to be & realise this sickness has changed you so much? Feeling like a shadow 🙁 “
When I wrote this, I was reflecting on the state of my life this time a year ago. My memories of how everything was, just seemed perfect compared to now. Blissful. No pain, no problems (not health related anyway).
I was thinking about the quality of my life; how I never knew this kind of pain that I’ve been experiencing consistently. I started to get jealous of my old life. I started to miss it. It felt like my life was now rubbish compared to my “pre-chronic” life.
When I think of how the last few months have been – I must admit that I definitely don’t feel like the same person anymore. Every day I face a fight against myself. Just to get up, go to work, smile and make it through that one day.
A part of what has made me feel like a different person, is due to the impact these migraines have had on my senses. I can just about tolerate light and many ‘every day’ noises cause pain for me nowadays. If a smell that is a tad bit too strong, it will trigger a migraine. These things that I never noticed or even paid attention to – are now the same things that I have to be aware of and avoid. Another factor that played into my negative perspective at this time was the anxiety I felt. The anxiety that pain warriors are all too familiar with;
“What if I NEVER return to how I used to be? What if things get worse? Will I ever have a life now?”
…I get it. We have all been there unfortunately. I still have those thoughts every now and then. But on the day that I wrote this specific tweet, my thought process started to take a different direction…
Because of my faith in God, I started to allow my thoughts to walk a bit further and evolve into something positive. My thoughts about who I used to be, started focusing on something different; I asked myself “Well who am I now?”
Have I Evolved?
My responses were thoughts about how I have learned to appreciate life in a different way. I was always a person who frequently reflected on my life and appreciated my circumstances, with the knowledge that they could take a dive at any moment. But I still wouldn’t have been able to appreciate things the way I do now if my life hadn’t taken this dive!
Now I am thankful whenever I do wake up in the morning, not feeling any pain. I am thankful that things are not worse. I’m grateful that the illness I’m dealing with is not terminal. When I do experience days that are pain-free, I appreciate them and don’t take them for granted. I spend time with my friends and family. I use what time I’ve been given to be practical and make things happen. Hey Pain Warrior – do you notice when we are well, it’s not just a ‘normal’ day to us anymore? We make it beautiful.
Living life as a pain warrior causes us to be open to others who are dealing with chronic illnesses/pain too. Being ill has enabled us to become more understanding to others. How is it that we can come together as pain warriors who have never met each other? We have never witnessed each other’s struggles in person, yet we understand one another more than our own family does sometimes? Maybe we would have been sympathetic if we hadn’t experienced our pain, but we wouldn’t have truly understood! Pain warriors have become more inclined to learn about each other’s illnesses. Some warriors have friends or family members that haven’t even made an effort to actually learn about their illness. But we’re not like that.
The more I thought about it, it occurred to me; our illnesses have caused us to evolve as pain warriors. We have been pushed to our limits. Pain Warriors have been challenged in every way possible. As a people, we have been forced to question our lives, our purpose and existence due to our pain. Yet we are still here.
The statistics for depression and anxiety among those with chronic illnesses are frequently highlighted. Although the medical world tends to ignore the statistics for the suicide rate of sufferers, but they exist. But even when those thoughts tried to dance around in your head, you didn’t give in. You’re still here.
Now ask yourself, could the “previous you” have actually handled what you are dealing with now? The old you who didn’t know of the pain you were yet to experience? Could the old you have survived and withstood the pain? This old you that you may be jealous of? Only you can answer that.
However here is my answer to that question. Going back to the tweet that I initially wrote – I stated that I felt like a ‘shadow of myself’. Even though being in the shadow state of yourself is not exactly the most riveting part of life, it’s important to remember this; a shadow is a reflection of yourself ultimately (okay so scientifically that’s not accurate, but you know what I mean…work with me here!). It’s just the darker version of yourself that you see on the floor. Warriors please don’t spend so much time looking down on the floor that you forget to hold your head up. Your shadow is beneath you for a reason. You might feel like that shadow for a while but choose not to dwell or focus all of your attention on that form of yourself.
The truth is, the old you that you just reflected on always had that strength and ability to endure what you’re going through now. It was just dormant and needed to be triggered. Now that it has been triggered, it is now being utilized.
You Have Evolved.
This, is why I believe you have evolved Pain Warrior; your perspective and outlook on life is not the same as it once was. Sometimes you struggle and feel like giving up, but you haven’t. You are so strong and powerful. You are bearing everything and yet you’re still here – alive today. This is not by mistake. There are some people who couldn’t overcome this the way you have.
The thing about evolution is that there is always room for you to grow: you can never reach your full capacity of growth. At university, the one thing they always drilled into us about evolution was that specimen developed features that were more advanced than their ancestors according to their habitat. This would make them more fit for survival. Now I’m not here to get into that debate because everybody has their opinions on those theories. But the same thing can be said for us!
The mania that you have experienced as a pain warrior, has developed you to be fitter and stronger for survival. From going through unknown pain, to handling friends and family that don’t understand what you’re dealing with. Struggles of waiting for a specialist appointment for half a year, to just to see a doctor that belittles your experience or even worse – can’t diagnose your illness! From being in mind numbing atmospheres at work, to then being in so much pain that you can’t even sleep once you finally make it home. Enduring the same questions people ask repeatedly because it’s the first time having the conversation for them, but the thousandth time for you!
All of this has certainly challenged you and stretched you! But you’re still here. Still fighting. Still taking it one day at a time. Recognise how far you’ve come. Whether you realise it or not, you have definitely evolved. Your pain is frustrating – yes, but it has changed you for the good Pain Warrior.
For this I salute you.
Until next time,
Do You feel like dealing with your chronic illness has caused you to grow Warrior? If so, how? Share your views with us below.
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