Lessons My Autoimmune Disease Has Taught Me

“Every illness holds a lesson for us to learn. When we take this lesson to heart, our lives improve as a result.”

- Louise L. Hayheart_cover1

Learning to live with an autoimmune disease has been a challenge. In the beginning, the relief that there was an explanation for why I was feeling so tired was palpable. I started educating myself about the disease, its causes, and the prognosis.  As I grew more knowledgable, I decided to make an action plan to compliment the medical treatment I was receiving. I was hoping the medicine would help, but I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to improve and ultimately recover.

One of my biggest adjustments has been learning to find balance. I have learned how to slow down. I realize that slowing down my pace allows me to speed up. I spend fewer days in bed as a result of pushing myself too hard for too long. I have had to calibrate my expectations to better match my new reality. I couldn’t keep up with my previous pace, but now I realize that I don’t want to live like that anyway. I am more present and more centered. Here are my Big 2 Lessons.

Big Lesson #1- There is beauty in this moment.

“If” and “when” are little words full of hope, but I can’t let them take me away from “here” and “now”. Planning for the future is important, but not at the expense of the present. If I’m too focused on planning, I will never get to fully experience the life I have been planning and hoping to live. I make plans with priorities in mind. This means that sometimes it is okay to say no or to compromise on when and how things get done. I try to make sure that each day contains a few moments that aren’t about tomorrow, but focused on making the most of today.

Big Lesson #2- Gratitude is an anecdote.

Focusing on all the things I am grateful for wards away depression and anxiety. Take it like a pill.

I wish it hadn’t taken an autoimmune disease for me to learn these lessons, but I know that the quality of my life with or without an illness is better as a result of these two transformational ideas.

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