River & Quill on Living with Chronic Illness

River & Quill on Living with Chronic Illness

Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, please be aware that this Living with Chronic Illness guest post may contain affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you).

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. River & Quill on Living with Chronic Illness

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. River & Quill on Living with Chronic Illness

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. River & Quill on Living with Chronic Illness

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?

About Callie River & Quill on Living with Chronic Illness

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!

River + Quill on Living with Chronic Illness
River + Quill on Living with Chronic Illness


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21 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I don’t have a chronic illness and I can’t understand your pain, but I appreciate your honesty and you for just being real. You both are positive women helping each other and others in pain through the journey of life, which is very amazing. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. You are so sweet. Thank you for reading and saying such kind words! We are definitely trying our best to stay positive and live well despite our challenges and hope others can do the same!

  2. I love your attitude. There are so many chronic illnesses that are invisible to many people, and discussing them openly is the only way to get people to understand somewhat. Complaining doesn’t change the pain while changing your mindset to be more positive can help you deal with it. Good luck!

    1. YES exactly! That’s what we’re trying to do, raise awareness and try to help those living with chronic illness have a mentality around wellness, not just around being sick. It is so hard and it’s definitely a journey, but we can all get there. Not to say we won’t ever have bad days where the negative thoughts take over, but we can do our best to take care of our mental health as well.

  3. Chronic illness is an interesting topic for me. I feel like I sit on the edge between illness and wellness. I have multiple lifelong conditions but they are well-managed to the point that I barely notice I have them. However there are some days when I realise that amount of effort I have to put in to feel well and that can get me down. Thanks for your post!

    1. I’m in a very similar boat! Most days I’m functional, even good. But I still have bad flare days and I have to be ultra aware of the things I’m doing in order to not trigger a flare. It’s like it kind of becomes second nature, but then when you become aware of it, it’s like “ugh this is a lot”. But what Callie is getting at in this post, and what I’m definitely working towards, is having a wellness mentality. Working towards not getting bogged down in being “sick” even though we are, and trying our best to still live the best lives we can, even if it does have limitations. Not to say we won’t have bad days, but just not letting our illness define who we are because we are not our illnesses. We are people with illnesses. But we are still people who deserve to live happy and fulfilling lives. Sorry I kind of went on a tangent there. Callie has been super inspirational for me with this whole mindset thing!

    2. Charlotte- thanks for this comment! And for your transparency. I think we are all constantly striving to live better and it can be so overwhelming. I am in no way perfect at this, but I’m committed to always trying to get it a little bit better today than I did yesterday. And Shannon, thanks friend. You are an incredible warrior!

  4. I personally don’t deal with a chronic illness I don’t understand the pain you go through everyday. But your a strong woman to go have to go through that everyday. Thanks for sharing 😊

  5. I would love to connect further with both of you and support one another as we live with chronic illness and pain. Every day there is something to be grateful for, even in the pain, I am glad to be alive!

    1. Agreed Lisa! And I’m sure Callie would agree too. It’s so important to have a strong support system when dealing with all this!

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words! I agree that mental health isn’t taken as seriously as it should be, but I think we’re getting better about it as a society! And those of us with chronic illness have to stick together, support each other, and lift each other up. We can still leave beautiful, fulfilling lives despite our illnesses!

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