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One of the first chronic illness bloggers I followed when I joined the blogging scene was Callie over at River & Quill. We not only share a diagnosis but a similar mindset when it comes to chronic illness and life in general. I’m so excited to have her as my first-ever guest blogger! Without further adieu, I give you the wise words of Callie from River & Quill on living with chronic illness!
River & Quill on Living with Chronic Illness
Writing for Shannon’s blog is such a treat for me, as any of you reading this know what a beautiful atmosphere she has cultivated over here.
Shannon and I met through social media, and I was drawn to her immediately. Her positive outlook, coupled with a desire to talk about the pain, while highlighting the good, is something we are lacking in the Chronic Illness Community (sometimes called the “Spoonie” Community).
When Shannon asked what I wanted to write about, I knew immediately it had to be mindset, because she and I share a similar one, and, honestly, it’s not common amongst chronic illness bloggers.
The mindset I have now was most certainly something I had to develop: almost like a weak muscle which needs time and exercise to be able to function again.
You can read my full story over at RiverandQuill.com, but the short of it is: when I was first diagnosed, almost three years ago now, I fell into a black hole of depression and anxiety. I would search the internet forums, trying to find a sense of hope. There were stories, sprinkled here and there, of those who were living good lives despite their chronic illness, and some who had their symptoms under control, but the majority of the content I found was riddled with pain and despair.
I also found, and still do, a sort of competition amongst those who were ill, to be the “illest”. Even as someone in pain, I felt like I couldn’t discuss my own issues, because theirs were worse, and I may offend them with my mediocre pain, compared to their devastating, measly state of existence.
There continues to be a pervasive attitude in the Spoonie Community of “us” vs “them”. The “ill” vs the “well”. Can you believe what that person who has no issues said to ME, the person with multiple chronic illnesses? My terrible is more important than your terrible. You don’t experience pain, so you wouldn’t know.
Here’s the thing: if you don’t have chronic pain, you need to be open to understanding that you simply don’t understand. This is true. This is something the Spoonie Community is desperate for you to accept. Our pain is real. We’re not doing this for attention. Please listen to us.
However, I also think those of us in the Spoonie Community need to accept: we too simply don’t understand. How can we possibly know the pain someone else is experiencing? It may not be physical, but it’s still real and it’s still hard, and we are not really so different from everyone else.
Basically, we just all need to stop competing to have the worst life, and start helping each other live our best lives.
My symptoms have become more than tolerable, but I know this doesn’t happen for everyone. I also know I started living well, with symptoms.
Friends, it’s possible to have a chronic illness and still live well. This doesn’t mean we ignore the pain, or squelch the grief. Talk about it, and talk about it LOUD! But don’t assume your pain is any worse or less than your brother or sister. It’s your pain, and it’s real, and so is the person’s pain on Twitter who you think has no idea what you are going through.
We are all walking this crazy path together, and we need to hold onto hope that whatever it is which weights us down can be the very thing which lifts us up.
If you are new to a chronic illness: this is not the end.
This is an opportunity to seek the you underneath the illness. My journey was rocky, full of sharp turns and pain, and I know it extends in front of me as well, but through it, I learned there was always beauty to be found, even amidst the pain.
What if we were all well, regardless of what our bodies told us? What if we dared to live chronically well, regardless of whether we were chronically ill? What if we stopped comparing, and starting helping one another up off the ground?
This is what Shannon is doing, and I am so grateful to have friends like her to journey this road together.
Friends, it is time to live WELL! Will you join us?
Callie is a wife, mom of three (one fur baby makes four), school psychologist, and lover of life. Then there was the time when chronic illness hit and she wasn’t sure about any of it, even the life part. She has made it her mission to reach out to those in pain and offer hope, compassion and friendship. She believes there is beauty to be found in even the darkest of places.
Check her out over on her blog River & Quill and let’s help get her all the support she can get so she can publish her first book! Also, be sure to check her out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest as well! She talks all about empathy and mindset, and so much more!