Sometimes when you’re looking out a window, you’ll often see in the reflection, yourself, in a very dim way. A shadow version of yourself looking back.
It can be a heartbreaking thing, when you have such a moment, if you associate more with the shadow than with yourself.
This is the reality chronic illness can leave you feeling. Something is missing.
You can feel the future disappearing, like a mirage, upon discovering a negative health diagnosis.
You feel your goals, ambitions, and the potential you held are now lost to you.
This future version of yourself, once so assured, is now disappearing into a blur being replaced by feelings of uncertainty and loss.
You are still there, what is not there is your planned future. This can be a devastating shock.
You look inwards and suddenly realise your past has not given you the necessary skill-set to weather the storm of ill health.
You have spent years prepared for a reality that is now no more.
What to do?
No doubt you are not alone, you have friends and family to support and encourage you, in the short term. However, if you have a chronic long term illness, more is needed.
You need to reinvent yourself.
Not change who you are but create a different version of who you are. You need to take advantage of your personal traits and character and add to them the skills, knowledge and attitude to develop a version of yourself which CAN deal with your illness and help you attain a good quality of life.
Illness will impact your life, however, you CAN dictate the extent of this impact.
What is needed is to accept your new situation and start to move towards adopting the skill-set needed to negate the effects illness can have on your future.
My personal story.
These were my thoughts when I was diagnosed with chronic end stage renal failure (kidney failure). I did not like or understand the shadow I saw before me. I felt despondent and lacking in clarity seeing my future plans disappear.
I had a very obvious sense that I was under skilled, mentally and emotionally, to deal with the issues confronting me.
These feelings swallowed me up initially.
Acceptance can be a slow and painful process when you are hit arbitrarily with a devastating diagnosis.
To truly accept your situation it is good if that acceptance comes slowly. It needs to.
There is a huge build up of tension from a shock diagnosis, at any age.
Looking back I can see it was about embracing and facing the issues which were causing the tension. To a degree I did. For a long time I was a healthy kind of sick person.
The problem was I wasn't moving past the tension to where I needed to go, who I needed to become.
I needed to rebuild as a different version of myself.
I had to gather within myself what could be salvaged from a past bearing little resemblance to my future.
I had to develop the personal skills to create the best version of myself with my health issues. The overriding goal shifted towards quality of life rather than the illusionary ideal of perfect health.
Many years later I feel I have achieved these goals and aspirations pertaining to quality of life. I am in a very good place physically, mentally and emotionally. Saying that, quality of life is not a given and challenges constantly occur in life.
Complacency has no place in the uncertain world of chronic health issues.
But, overtime, with the development of coping skills, resilience and a positive attitude I feel all eventualities can be dealt with through using these skills.
They are after-all hard earned in the fire of adversity.
Finally, there is also gratitude. For although the lessons are hard earned they are priceless. Adversity, hardship and pain are now viewed differently. These are now seen as merely challenges along the way.
To the person looking out through the window?
Look past the dim shadowy reflection to where all challenges are surmountable on the road to a brighter, healthier future