Sunday, 7 February 2016

Analysing 'positive' quotes in chronic illness...

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One of the rarities that I find incredibly comforting whilst living with a disabling, chronic illness is reading quotes. They can be from books, interviews or my guilty pleasure, Pinterest boards. One of my resolutions for the new year was to read at least three quotes everyday and try to adapt them to my present. Quotes have the ability to show me a new perspective. They allow me to think, reflect and ponder in what is typically, a positive light. I try to adapt quotes to how I feel in myself or within my current situation with illness. I sometimes turn to them as a boost or as an act of relation. There are times where I need to return to them with a clearer mindset and other times where they instantly click with me, installing some hope I was perhaps looking for that day. I am typically, very fond of them and happy to take on a new perspective path. However, I have been continuously coming across a few quotes that I find incredibly difficult to click with in relation to chronic, incurable illness and disability. Despite really wanting too and being optimistic that one day, it may perhaps finally make sense, it currently feels incredibly unrelatable. I do however acknowledge that for many, it will be a relatable point of view to take on in life.

The quotes in question were,
'The only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you'
 'Life has no limitations, except the ones you create'.

There are many other quotes that follow the same pattern. These quotes made me realise how irrelevant they can seem when dealt the cards of ill health in life. Life does in fact come with limitations that sometimes you have lack of control over. Whilst in a state of good health, the above may be true, however it touched a nerve with me as a chronically ill, disabled young women. My instant reaction was that pain is the obstacle that has put my life on hold for many years, which was not something created by myself. All the wanting and wishing in the world to fulfill my dreams is dismissed more often than not because of my chronic, disabling illness. Nothing stops the fact that my dreams still exist, other than something my body can not currently over come, which is my incurable illness. I do not know if it is because my pain levels have been incredibly high these last few weeks that the certain quotes unnerved me, but it made me feel incredibly dismissive towards the prospect they could be true. I found myself deeply disagreeing that it is not always the case for a large sum of individuals. When I shared the quote on Twitter, the reaction was very similar amongst the chronic illness community which was a bonus to how I felt.

The quotes had me deeply reflecting upon whether those who are given the predicament of a chronic illness that disables them, are ever truly given a choice in what stops them from progressing in life? Where opportunity and choice are often dictated by an illness. We definitely do not choose to stay standstill within our circumstances for the sake of it and we try our absolute best to just get through everyday, without much to show for it. We have to give things up and prioritise more often than we please. We have to learn how to work with and most importantly, live with constant illness. It is tiresome and many of us want so badly to create a beautiful future for ourselves. We want to be living a quality of life that reflects our personality, we want pain to be a thing of the past rather than the consumption of our existence. We wish to attain our goals in correlation to our ages and to live free of the limits that chronic illness and disability present to us, but life does not always work out that way. The bottom line is that our outcome has been one in which we have not had full control over. We can adapt our attitude to the best of our abilities, yet sometimes we would not judge each other if we could not do so. We know that the circumstances of feeling trapped in a body with constant pain can feel incredibly mundane. These circumstances are not ones you can simply overcome with ease.

We are told that our future belongs to us, our choices and there is nothing stopping us from success. What if that barrier is in the form on an incurable illness? One that disables your every move. One that can not be controlled by medicine at this point in time and forces you to be bed bound, housebound and forced to take it day by day. You wait out a storm that has every intention to not completely pass. How would anybody cope with those unnerving circumstances? Fear is ever so present because you realise how unattainable quotes as such can feel in your circumstances. No one can be prepared for an outcome such as long term illness arrives, it arrives and makes itself know from out of nowhere. It knocks you for six and the rebuilding of yourself takes years in some cases, with more setbacks then you perhaps let on to those around you. The prospect of getting better feels like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Sometimes you are not supplied the privelidge of living life to the fullest or exactly as you please. This is a lifestyle where pain exists everyday despite trying every method, diet and medication to eliminate it. Does our future belong to us or to the disease that is swarming our bodies currently? A situation completely out of many individuals hands.

Yes, perhaps there will be times where you can adapt your attitude to that of a positive perspective, but you can not revoke your chronic pain. You can not change the one thing that keeps you a prisoner. Both in your house and a prisoner to a disease. Something that completely disrupts all of normal life's fundamental values in which you can only learn to manage in particularly, minimal ways. The sad truth for those living a similar lifestyle to myself is that no amount of wishing on shooting stars in the world can change our diagnosis. Including what damage and disruption our illnesses continue to cause leading to the point of a disability. Nobody has a choice in the matter of deciding when an illness may enter their life. No one can be prepared for the fact the illness in question may perhaps never leave and instead make an individual disabled for a long period time or their entire future. Quite frankly, there is a lack of choice when chronic, debilitating, incurable illness is thrust upon you. You just simply get by the best way you can. We appear to the world on days where we can force ourselves outside. These occasions are often slim to none because illness restricts our function on a daily basis. To the world it perhaps counts as a good day, yet realistically is still a seven out of ten on the scale. It is called chronic illness, incurable pain and a disability for a reason. Not 'if you change your attitude and stop moaning, you can still live the life of your dreams, it's only an illness'.

Positivity in chronic illness is something individuals have to work really hard to maintain. We would not be judged over lacking in positivity as we have lived with the long term outcome. That outcome being that our healths progress remains incredibly slow when it comes to any vast improvements. Vast enough to build a consistent quality of life. Whilst many on the outside may think that it is good enough chance and judge us on how we perhaps lack in positivity or do not push ourselves enough, when you have lived in such a way you know how often you can doubt positivity. You know that the fight is continuous and does not become easier. It is torture to feel a complete prisoner to pain with no choice in your lifestyle. To be confined to wheelchairs or your bed for long periods of time. We have to convince ourselves of hope and the prospect of pain changing, whilst acknowledging that false hope is not always the answer for our state of mind. Adaption seems the better option over doubtful assumption that we will perhaps regain full health.

There is this fixation and expectation within all of us for the perfect life. We want to succeed, be happy and be healthy. We are all hard on ourselves and adamant to do better. There is a valid reason behind feeling stuck when it comes to progression and that is simply because of pain. Life is not a fairytale for anyone, yet the stakes can feel higher for others than for those embedded with illnesses. Obviously, I hope I speak for many when I say I want nothing more than a positive and hopeful future. I hope more than anything this is attainable despite my disabling illness. I want that outcome more than what I yearn to be pain free.

Don't get me wrong, I wish that the quotes above inspired me rather than caused me to reflect. I am aware that not every quote or wise phrase out there is going to suit every single individual on this earth. They are available to resonate with us and to lift us higher. Through this post, I just wanted to emphasise that it is not a simple case of 'the world is your oyster', when you do not even have the basic levels of health to function. Where you just about manage to get dressed and brush your teeth on some days. The prospect of belonging to pain can feel incredibly upsetting if you allow the thought to make you feel inferior and at times, this thought can feel incredibly powerful. From the outside, it seems individuals with health perhaps have the beauty of choice in ways those with illness do not. This may be a wrong assumption, I am aware that nobody's life is easy, not even the rich and famous. This post is merely a spin on how popular quotes within society are not always adaptable for those with disabling illnesses and instead have the power to emphasis on the fact their life may perhaps be in shambles. The quotes did however end up spurring me on in terms of raising future awareness. To put out there, that in fact not every individual has the choice to fulfill their dreams currently and these illnesses many are disabled by need more recollection in life.

Living with an incurable illness can have tendencies to feel perpetual, which is some ways is ridiculous as every story has a beginning, middle and end. Every present has a future, yet when pain is one of the main fundamental obstacles within that situation, the struggle you face feels indefinite. When you live with pain every single second of every day for years on end, you build the walls around your heart to not allow yourself to hurt more than you already do. You toughen yourself up and you learn to expect rather than to be shocked. You learn to acknowledge that pain will always be a consistent part of your life because you have never felt differently, yet you also force yourself to remain hopeful for things to get better. And whilst many may think that is the wrong attitude to adapt, you have to remember those who usually accept this mindset do so for a reason. Because they know deep down, pain can not be escaped within some illnesses. Pain will always be a part of their equation and they must deal with this how they can. Pain and illness can not always be coated, eased or elimated. It just has to be lived through and that can be the scariest part. Knowing that you have lack of control over such a dictating aspect of your life and have to muster the strength somewhere inside of you to keep battling onward.


  1. Hello, I just 'found' you on Twitter and followed you to your blog. I can so relate to you, even though you are young enough to be my daughter. Pain and Chronic Illness know no age delimitation.

    I am just starting a new section on my blog about Inspiration. My first two posts were about gratitude. One of the highlights I am adding are lots of positive quotes! I also try and read as many as I can a day and am starting to share my favorite ones in my blog now.

    I will be reading more of your blog, I wish you had an email sign up but can't find it. Here is my blog, I hope you enjoy my posts on Gratitude and look for more quotes coming soon!

    Take care!