Living with a chronic illness requires learning about tests, medications, therapies, and so much more – including how to speak “medicalese.” But there’s some lessons that books, health pamphlets, and the internet can’t teach. Patient advocate Lana Barhum shares three important lessons she’s learned on her journey with chronic illness.
1. It isn’t my fault.
We often wonder why we got sick. Did we do something to cause this? Maybe if we ate better, exercised more, or stressed less, this wouldn’t have happened to us. These feelings can actually stem from a need for control when we have so little of it. The idea that we caused our illness somehow makes more sense than the truth, that chronic illness often offers no explanation or discrimination.
It can be hard to wrap your head around the fact that you were not specifically picked to suffer, and the universe has nothing against you. So I took the blame for being sick even though it was out of my hands. Was it because I wasn’t religious enough, made mistakes, or wronged others? Maybe it was a punishment because I didn’t feel like a good person. I know now none of these are true, but my frustrations with being sick led me to believe they were.