Living with Chronic illness: One Year On

Firstly I have to say that I'm not writing this post for sympathy, in all honesty the thought of people feeling sorry for me drives me insane, it makes me feel even more abnormal than I usually do. The reason I'm writing this post is for all those out there who suffer daily basis and need someone to relate to, for those who have been newly diagnosed with a chronic illness and feel scared and if anyone catches the train with me, to show them why I sometimes have to beg to sit on a chair even though I look rather normal. 

I admit I have never been the epitome of health, but I do try. In fact three years ago I shed five stone and started going to the gym for up to two hours a day to stay fit. I used to swim 72 lengths without any hesitation and my favourite thing to do was to go on long walks on a bank holiday like today. The only health problem I ever had at that point was asthma which was under control and I never needed to go to hospital and the odd kidney infection, which often felt tortuous but the majority of the time I could still lead a relatively normal life, whatever that may be.

I've always had the odd problem with joints which the doctors often laughed off as growing pains, but nothing like I started to experience just two years ago. These pains came on really suddenly and left me bed bound. I felt hopeless often going to the doctors only to be told it was nothing to worry about. After months of testing, this time last year I was told the news that I was dreading - I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints. Luckily my condition is only mild, but it still affects my daily life and it is something I have to take into consideration in everything I do.

My biggest bugbear about living with a chronic illness is that I look pretty normal on the outside and I often feel guilty about taking time off work or cancelling on friends because I feel like they often don't see what I'm going through. That said, I managed to survive a trip to Thailand recently which has been one of my biggest achievements since my diagnosis. It has given me hope that my body can survive travelling and has made me realise how much I want to see the world.

One year on from my diagnosis I have learnt...

That listening to my body is important

Even if you don't have a chronic illness, listening to your body is important. If your body says that you need rest, you need rest. If you're body is telling you to take it easy, take it easy. Putting further pressure on yourself can make you worse in the long run and keep you further away from reaching your goals.

To take things at my own pace

When I was diagnosed I would often sulk to my husband about how I couldn't run on the treadmill for as long as I used to and that I can barely swim any lengths compared to be. It is frightening and upsetting seeing your ability decreasing, but it doesn't mean you won't get it back. By taking my time and not rushing my body I have allowed myself to build up enough strength to swim 20 lengths when I want to and also walk for a long period of time. Some days this isn't possible, but even without a chronic illness, we all have our good days and bad days and sometimes we need to realise this.

A chronic illness doesn't need to limit you

Having a chronic illness isn't always fun and yes it makes you slightly different to everyone else, but it doesn't need to limit you. If you told me last year that I would be able to walk nearly four hours a day in a country 5,824 miles away from home I would have laughed, but now I realise that anything can be possible if you try. It's so easy to let a chronic illness consume you and to curl up in bed trying to forget the world. You need to be a warrior and show the illness that it's your body and you can do as you please.  Just make sure you take your medication and don't rush yourself into anything. You have the ability to do anything you want to do, you just have a few more obstacles than most, but it is achievable.

Do you know someone living with a chronic illness?



  1. I honestly love your positivity in this post and I'm so happy you've managed to come to some kind of peace with your illness. Someone close to me has recently been suffering with a chronic illness and it's been so tough to watch their struggle and help them stay upbeat! I'll be sure to pass on some of these tips :)

    Farida xxx

  2. It would be so incredible difficult - but I am so impressed with your attitude and your strength. There is no doubt about it. You are inspiring people to make the most of every day and never let anything get in your way!


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