The biggest lesson that I have learned from being diagnosed with a chronic illness is turning my struggle into purpose. In my eyes, I had two options – one where I could be sad and let my disease affect my life, and another where I could use it to my advantage and lead my life in a new direction. I chose the second road. I did this because I do not want to be sad all the time, I don’t think anyone does. I chose to be a fighter instead, even though I knew the road was scary and uncertain.
It took me a couple of months after my diagnosis to come to this conclusion. Those first few months of being sick were hard. I went through all the stages of grief as one does when learning they will be sick for the rest of their life. I actually did not share my diagnosis with friends until about four months after. During that time, I tried my best to re-adjust my life and start good habits that would lead me into remission. Truth is, I did not know if I was ever going to get better and my biggest fear was my friends choosing to look at me differently.
I have never wanted others to treat me differently or feel bad for me. The main reason I did decide to share my story so openly was to help me cope and to help others who may have the same thing. Writing allows me to put everything I am feeling into words and the IBD community I have created here keeps me going. You can read more about my decision to share my story on my previous blog post. Sharing is never easy, but it was the first step in the new direction I was heading.
Having a chronic illness has changed my perspective on life. Now, I do not take anything for granted. For each good day I have, I give thanks to God for keeping me safe and healthy. You would be amazed at how not having normal bowel movements can ruin your day and life! It is such a small thing that carries a huge impact. Along with my new perspective, I have learned what I am truly passionate about – helping others.
At the beginning of this year, I began my MBA journey because I have a dream of one day starting a non-profit in the Reno area that benefits patients with chronic illness. I am hoping to learn the skills needed in the MBA program to start a non-profit and really narrow down what I want it to look like. As long as I am accomplishing my goal of helping others, I will be fulfilled. Before my diagnosis, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do for work but I knew I had many interests. My chronic illness gave me the inspiration I needed to really figure out where I wanted to take my life.
I could not be happier with where I am currently at in my life. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and my diagnosis led me in the direction I was supposed to go. My chronic illness has allowed me to tap into the things that I love – writing, helping others, and sharing my story. Sometimes your struggles take you to new and amazing places that you never would have thought about before. Do not be afraid to use your struggles as an opportunity to take a new, positive road. You never know what might be waiting for you behind that door. Use your struggles to fuel your passion!
Think about the struggles in your life. Are they leading you in a new direction?