Finding Love and Self-Acceptance with a Chronic Illness
We are each given one body. Each comes with its own set of needs, and some bodies come with more challenges and are more difficult to take care of than others — especially when chronic illness is involved. Chronic illnesses can also make it hard to love your body and yourself, which is already a hard enough task.
Of course, medical treatment and patient education are the most important parts of living with a chronic condition. However, realizing that it doesn’t define you and focusing on the positive aspects of your body and your life can make a great difference for you. With the help of medical treatment and positive thinking, you can find love and self-acceptance while living with a chronic illness.
Learning to Love Your Body
Living with a chronic illness can make you feel weak. It can make you think that your body is lacking or inadequate. However, the opposite is true. Living with a chronic illness shows that you have a strength beyond what most people have. Your body works extra to keep you alive, and though that can be difficult, it’s also something to be appreciated.
Learning to be mindful is a good place to start with accepting and loving your body. It can often be challenging to see the good parts about your body when you can struggle to achieve seemingly simple tasks. By recognizing what your body can do, you can focus on being grateful for your body and the things it gives you.
Of course, this doesn’t mean telling yourself that your body is perfect. No one’s body is perfect. However, by accepting its flaws and looking at other positive qualities, you can gain a deeper appreciation for your body. You can also keep a journal to document what you are grateful for and look back on it when you are having a bad day.
Similarly, you can look for new things you can do with your chronic illness. Depending on the severity of your illness, you can look for activities, skills, or hobbies you can learn. Not only are these great ways to work on self-improvement, but they will also help you find more things about your body to appreciate. The more these new activities incorporate your body, the better, but it can be as simple as being grateful for your brain for giving you the ability to learn a new language.
Living a Full Life
Having a chronic illness can sometimes limit what you can physically do. This can take a toll on your personal life and fulfillment. This is why, in addition to fostering your appreciation for what your body can do, you should nurture your self-confidence.
You can start by making your body look good to you. This can be done at any age and with any type of chronic illness. Again, you should take pleasure in small details. For example, you can put lotion on your skin every day to make it soft, you can apply nail polish to your nails, or even get a permanent tattoo that you love. You can style your hair a new way, or if you don’t have hair, you can get a henna crown, a wig, or hat that makes you feel pretty.
You can also get dressed up from time to time, and plan special events to do so. For example, having a chronic disease — even chronic STD’s — shouldn’t stop you from dating. Even if you aren’t looking for anything long-term at the moment, you can go on casual dates for the fun of it. Alternatively, or additionally, you can get dressed up and plan a fun event with your friends or family.
Living with chronic disease likely means that you will experience some hard days, possibly many. However, it shouldn’t stop you from living. Just like anyone else, if you focus on what you don’t have or can’t do, you will be unhappy. By focusing on appreciation and living a full life, you can find self-acceptance and love while living with a chronic illness.
About the Author
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.