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It’s very easy to focus on all the negatives that come along with having a chronic illness. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve been struggling with the limitations fibro has placed on me recently. The main catalyst for this is that my return to work last month did not go as planned; I did not foresee being unable to manage. It’s made me think too much about all the things I have had to give up due to this illness. So I wanted to take a few moments to instead focus on the positives and talk about the ways that my life has changed for the better:

1. I have met some truly wonderful people

Being the only person I know with this condition made me reach out and connect with people online. I have met many inspiring, amazing people. Not only are they super supportive, but seeing all the things they manage to accomplish also fills me with hope. There’s something great about talking with other people who completely “get it” and can empathise with your situation.

2. Fibromyalgia made me slow down

This was initially met with resistance and, truthfully, it only happened because my body gave me no option but to. However, I am now able to see this as a positive. People in the modern world are so unbelievably busy. We work, work, work and often lose sight of what is important in our lives. We forget to appreciate everything we already have and focus too much on the future and what we want to achieve. Fibro has made me live more in the moment and appreciate each day for what it is. I appreciate the little things I am able to do and celebrate small successes each day. Who knew being able to wash your hair would be such a victory!

3. It brought me closer to my family

I know that I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing and supportive family. They are honestly my own personal cheerleaders who encourage me and give me strength when I need it. It’s absolutely true that when you are caring for someone who is ill, it brings you closer together. That is exactly what has happened with me and my family. My Mum is a superstar who is always there for me and helps me out in every way she can. My Dad is 110% there for me too and I wouldn’t be without him. My husband has had to take on so much and care for me in ways neither of us would have ever anticipated. I honestly don’t know what I would do without him.

4. Fibro made me find new passions

Had it not been for this illness I wouldn’t have this blog. I enjoy writing it so much and it gives me a great focus. I also may have not thrown myself into photography. I probably would have never found the time for sewing and I doubt I would have made the time to learn Spanish. All of these are things I really enjoy and I try to do them as often as possible.

5. I learned that I enjoy Indian food

This one amuses me as I never liked Indian food! I couldn’t even stand the smell of it. It was always a shame as my husband’s family loved it and I would regularly miss meals out with them. Since cutting out dairy, wheat and a few other things from my diet, I have been open to experimenting with food more. Turns out my husband is an amazing cook and I actually love homemade Indian cuisine. To top that off, I’m now eating healthier and my diet includes a better variety of food than ever before. Many people feel that restricting what types of food you eat is limiting but for me it’s kind of been the opposite.

I challenge you to think about the ways chronic illness has changed your life for the better. Let me know in the comments below.

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Author

Hello, I'm Donna. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2013 and started this blog shortly after. After my health declined significantly the following year, I decided to become my own advocate and searched for answers. It took two years but, in 2016, I finally discovered I had Lyme Disease. On February Stars, I share my personal journey back to better health; discussing what has helped me and the mistakes I've made along the way. I also cover topics on self-improvement, managing symptoms and living life to the fullest with chronic illness.

25 Comments

  1. Faye Savory Reply

    I’m so sorry your return to work didn’t go to plan Donna. It was a brave thing to give it a go though and I really admire you for that. It’s great that you are choosing to focus on the positives instead. ME/CFS has brought about almost all of the same positive outcomes for me too. Meeting others in similar situations has been a major plus and you are one of those people who fill me with hope. Sending lots of love xxx

    • Hi Faye, thank you so much. Although it didn’t work out I am glad I gave it a go. I’m now just working on building myself up and hopefully I will be able to try again. Time will tell. You are very right when you say that meeting other people in a similar situation is so helpful. I remember coming across your blog and the first post I read was about you resigning from your job. I could relate so much to what you said and it has helped me be more understanding and accepting of my own situation. I am holding onto the hope that I can return to my job but, through speaking to people like you, I realise that it’s okay if my journey turns out to be different than the one I hope for. I hope you are keeping well xx

  2. I’m glad that you’ve managed to focus on the positives, it can be difficult can’t it?! For me giving up certain types of food, has really broadened my culinary horizons too! I thought that I ate a wide and varied diet before, but when you really break it down, so much of what I was eating before was essentially wheat! I am so adventurous with my foods now, trying raw foods and experimenting with different cuisines.

    I hope that today is a good day for you, Jenny

    • Thanks Jenny. It really can be. If I am completely honest I have had this post sitting there as a draft for weeks now. I initially thought it sounded too trivial and I was struggling with getting it to sound right. I’m glad you have found giving up food types as being a positive thing too. My diet was absolutely full of wheat too but, like you, I am more open to experimenting too. I hope you are feeling well.

  3. It’s difficult to stop and see the positives sometimes but I definitely agree that they are there if we look. I’ve met some amazing people, the closest friends I’ve ever had. And realised what things I really want to do rather than just should be doing in life. Great post

    • Thank you Jessica. There are so many positives that are easy to overlook. I always think what it boils down to is a choice: we can choose to be miserable or we can choose to make the best out of a bad situation and be as positive as we can

  4. I admire how you take a negative and turn it into a positive! Living with a chronic illness can be seen as a negative, but finding the brighter side makes it easy to cope with and ease the pains. I am going to share this article with my readers. Thank you for sharing your positive outlook at Fibro Fridays at Fibro Bloggers Directory!

    • Thank you Brandi! It can be so easy to fall into a negative mindset when you have fibro but I try not to focus on that side of it as it just makes me miserable. I appreciate you sharing this with your readers. Take care

  5. authornicolettebrink Reply

    Staying positive and having a no excuse mindset can get a person through anything! Mind over matter always! I am sure many others with fribro enjoy reading what works for you and what doesn’t!

    • Absolutely! I think you need to have a positive outlook or else you would be completely miserable. It’s hard but you can change your mindset to a more positive one. I hope they do. Thank you for commenting. Have a great day.

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I have AS/Fibro/Lupus and have found it very difficult to deal with all the changes in my life, but your post made me re-evaluate my outlook! Because I had to quit my job, I met my wonderful husband and I now live on his farm and help to raise our own food, it’s a slower paced way of life but I am contributing to our health. I always thought you had to have a paycheck to be worthwhile, and I hated to cook, sew, keep house, but now I realize those are all worthwhile things and enjoy the contentment they now bring to my life. I focus so much on the negative of my health that I didn’t realize how much more I am enjoying the small but yet beautiful aspects of life. Thank you for the insightful post. I will strive harder to find the positive aspects of my illnesses!!

    • Hi Amy, thank you so much for your comment– it has made my day 🙂 A slight shift in perspective can make such a difference, can’t it? It’s always hard when life doesn’t turn out the way we planned but we can certainly find a new purpose and, though that may be slower paced, it’s definitely still meaningful and making a contribution. It’s amazing that you are achieving all that you are in spite of your health issues. It just goes to show that making the right decision for yourself can make a positive difference 🙂 take care!

  7. Leigh Ringer Reply

    It was a breath of fresh air to read your positive comments on Fibro!! So often there is an abundance of negatives that we all understand and know too well. We have a choice in how we respond to what our challenges are. Thank you for saying so well what I feel so often. It slowed me down too and in doing so I realized I am not in control and that is ok. Fibro has certainly brought me into closer relationship daily upon Christ and how I am dependent on His strength rather than my own. Living in the moment and appreciating the small things is a great blessing that had enriched my life. Fibro folks have difficulties and big life changes, no doubt. But you never have to look far to see others with much greater physical battles daily. Fibro won’t take my life. I have a deeper appreciation for those precious ‘good’ days though I truly don’t remember ‘normal’ functioning any more. I focus on what I have and can do, rather than on what I have lost. I have learned in my Fibro years I can still enjoy an incredible, joyful and amazing life–just different from what I had planned for myself. So…life is good, God is good and it is well. Thank you for sharing the positives of such a frustrating condition. God bless you on your journey! Happy Thanksgiving! We have much to thank Him for, don’t we? 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your kind words Leigh 🙂 You are so right when you say we have a choice in how we respond to our challenges. This is exactly how I view life with fibro too. It is also good to put things in perspective at times too, though this doesn’t invalidate how we are feeling as life with fibro is tough too.

      Your view on life is exactly how I try to be too– focussing on what is good and letting go of frustrations. That shift in perspective is so powerful. As you say, life may not turn out as we planned but it can still be enjoyable and fulfilling if we open ourselves up to new possibilities

      Have a wonderful day 🙂

  8. Danyele Thomas Reply

    This was so touching and deeply inspiring. So often i get caught up in the daily pain and my limitations that I don’t take time to reflect on the positive side of this coin. I was recently diagnosed with intercostal neuralgia which has totally turned my life around. I put my life on pause until i felt better. But today I realized that I can’t stop living.
    Your article was my confirmation. Thank you so much! You have no idea how much it touched me.

    • Thank you so much Danyele, I am glad you found this post to be inspiring. It can be easy to get caught up in the negatives, seeing as fibro can be relentless and can constantly remind us of its presence. Intercostal neuralgia sounds very painful and I am sorry you are dealing with that diagnosis too. Just remember that you’ve got this! Listen to your body, make adaptations, slow down but most of all know that you can still achieve manu fulfilling things- it may just take a different perspective and approach to achieve it.

  9. I loved this post Donna! So sorry about your return to work not going to plan 🙁 I hope things improve for you soon so you are able to achieve that goal!
    I can relate to every one of the things your talked about. I am a different person now and wouldn’t have it any other way. I appreciate every little thing in life and I owe that to my illness.

    Merry Christmas lovely xxxx

    • Thank you Sophia, I appreciate your kind words 🙂 I’ll get there one day! It’s definitely all about appreciating the small things and I am so much happier for it. Have a wonderful Christmas 🙂 x

  10. Nikki Brown Reply

    I really appreciate this article! At 41 I have been living with fibro for 22 years. I also have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and have developed multiple chemical sensitivities. Fibro has actually brought a lot of beauty into my life. I got to stay home with my kids until my youngest was in junior high. My husband is the most incredible support to me, he just loves me as I am. Since my energy and strength really limit what I am able to do, I have been forced to get to know myself and only do the things that are most important to me. Who gets to do that in our busy society these days? I’ve become stronger than I ever thought possible and I am able to model courage for my 15 year old daughter who was diagnosed with fibro earlier this year.

  11. Yay!!! Fantastic post Donna! I love seeing positive information out out there for those of us dealing with chronic illness. Everyone knows the negative, it’s how people cope and keep moving forward that needs focusing on. ❤it!!

    • Thank you, Kristine. It can be hard to see the positives at times but they are there to be found 🙂

  12. Lovely post Donna. Sometimes when I struggle, I forget the positives but totally agree with slowing down & the fact it made me create my blog. On the other hand, I can’t be thankful as it has taken away so much from me, difficult one way up.
    H x

    • Thank you, Heidi. It can be all too easy to forget the positives. I doubt I’ll ever be one of these people who fully accept their illness, as I too have given up so much, but I try to see life as positively as I can 🙂

  13. Thank you to all these correspondents for these insightful comments. I too have had Fibro for 2 decades, developed as a result of multiple instances of glandular fever, and unrecognised for the first 16 years . Trigeminal neuralgia regularly adds to the brew, so what with one thing and another i do sometimes feel down. It has taken several years, adjustments to medication, and major changes to lifestyle and in the way I organise my time to learn how to cope . I am fortunate to live in a nice 3 bedroom house with enough of a garden for the good friend I share my home with and I to own a varying number of little old (and sometimes handicapped) dogs. We also look after dogs for friends and neighbours who have work or health issues. My friend has a job which takes up most of her time and energy whereas I had to give up work. We are owned by 8 rescued cats . Helping friends and neighbours get through domestic and health emergencies is fulfilling, and I have learned to pull back when pain and tiredness become overwhelming. I manage to put in short periods in the garden, even if it’s just putting out more food for the birds. 5 minutes per day in the fresh air has a real benefit. My life is full of blessings.

    • I’m so sorry that you went 16 years without a diagnosis. That must have been so difficult; knowing something was wrong but not getting any help or answers. To me, though, it sounds like you have been your own health advocate and found ways to improve your life and live better with your conditions, which is brilliant. I have a huge soft spot for dogs and think they add so much value to our lives. I am sure cats offer the same 🙂 I love your attitude towards life. Thank you for sharing.

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