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Who Am I Now? After Being Diagnosed

Dreaming Of Your Old Life

Last night I came across a video titled, Who Am I Now? After Being Diagnosed. The title of the video alone caught my attention.

Who am I now? 

Think about that for a second.

Maybe you’ve thought about it before. Maybe you think about it all the time. Do you find yourself yearning to be the person you used to be? Do you think about how able your body was, dream about a sport you used to play well, or wish that your body could do all the things it used to be able to do? I used to think about stuff like this often and during difficult times I still find myself thinking about who I used to be ‘before I got sick.’

I spent time with a friend this past week who is newly diagnosed with IBD. I listened as she spoke about her life before she got sick and it seems like she is stuck on that right now. Understandably she’s still mourning the life she once had. It’s not wrong to think about the old you. It’s normal to mourn life the way it used to be, to dream of going back, and to wonder what the future holds. 

Has our illness taken away everything we wanted for our lives?

Picture of a street sign. One says lost with an arrow pointing left. One says "very lost" with an arrow pointing right.

The New You Can Be Just As Great As the Old You; Just Different

Here are my thoughts: Fantasizing about who you used to be is normal but when you fixate on it it’s no longer healthy. You’re not allowing yourself to move forward or come to a place of peace and acceptance about everything. I’m guilty of doing it at times. I think about the body I used to have and how capable it was; I miss the days that I danced. I think about how I used to go to school, work two jobs, and maintain a social life without thinking about it. When things get difficult I start thinking negatively and wish that I could go back in time. Sometimes I watch my healthy friends and wish that I had their lives that they seem to take for granted. There have been times that I’ve been flat out angry with life, my body, my disease. Times where I had lost hope for a future that could be anything I wanted it to be.

"It's not all sunshine and rainbows but a good amount of it is"

Now, after many years of having chronic illness, I have come to a point where I have (mostly) accepted my life as it is. I know that things are always changing and that my health today is not going to be the same a month from now or a year from now; it could be better OR worse, so I better learn to roll with the punches. 

Currently I can’t do some things I would like to do.

In the future maybe I can?

Or maybe my health will never allow me to get to that point again.

All I want to be able to do is say that I tried my best, I laughed, I smiled, and I have love in my life. 

If I don’t learn to accept these things about my life it will be a lot harder to deal with. Some things are out of my control and that pretty much sums up life with chronic illness doesn’t it? I can’t control what medications will work or not work, I can’t control future surgeries and how they will affect me, I can’t control when I will be doubled over in pain, or anything else that might happen. 

I have learned for the most part to be a go-with-the-flow type of person. This is certainly not the type of person I used to be but as each year passes, and more happens, I realize that in the end it’s all okay. It’s okay because I am here, I don’t give up, and life is still filled with it’s good times.

I have friends, I laugh, I have love in my life. In the end does it matter if I am a high school teacher, working in a salon, or doing something completely different? Does it matter what grades I got in school or how long I was able to ride my bike? I think not. I think in the end when I look back all I want to be able to do is say that I tried my best, I laughed, I smiled, and I have love in my life. 

Sara

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