Saturday, 5 November 2016

Overcoming temporary setbacks in chronic illness...


Time and time again, those with chronic illness are facing the obstacle of tackling some form of a setback or temporary standstill. Perhaps like the majority of you whom may read this post, at least once a month my own safety net and what I class as a run of 'ok-ish' days, has tendencies to slip from beneath me. This typically arrives out of nowhere. Despite the diagnosis of many conditions, I often wonder why this predicament still comes as a surpirse to me. A huge shift within my circumstances occurs out of nowhere and knocks me sideways. My hard work collapses once again, all symptoms flare and I feel as if I arrive back at square one. The elements of a setback are something of which I do not like to focus upon too much, because they already take up a lot of my physical attention. I often lose the ability to move my limbs, to speak, to hear, to breathe clearly, to function and I feel incredibly trapped within my body. I get discouraged almost instantly. I find it very easy to blame myself when a setback occurs, until I stop being stubborn and instead try my upmost to listen to the natural direction of my body and my inner guidance. Waiting for the storm to pass has become something of which is the norm, for many of us. 

I am by no means an expert in overcoming setbacks in illness, but it is always nice to feel somewhat supported by those who also live with a reoccurring theme, whilst going through such an unsettling case. If anything, setbacks are incredibly heartbreaking, draining and an unwanted battle to face. You feel as if the net that you worked so tirelessly to piece together, breaks from beneath you without an element of forewarning. It is incredibly overwhelming and difficult to even begin to rebuild a form of what we perhaps class as a 'safety net’, once again. However, the most important part of this post is that it is absolutely necessary that we try to do so. For both ourselves, the lives we have ahead of us, the unlimited forms of potential within us and our future selves. We will one day, have the pleasure of thanking ourselves for our continued hard work towards overcoming temporary standstills as well as our will to endure the setbacks of chronic illness.

Setbacks can typically make you question whether you can rebuild in the ways you truly wish too. Deep down, we have probably all had moments where we question our own reslience and fight towards a situation, even with health on our side. Life gets the best of all of at times, but being defeated is simply an attitude. It is neither a greatly loving nor comforting attitude to allow in to our lives. I understand completely that a lot of the time, we feel terribly worn out with the occupation of living with chronic illness. We want a break and we question the way in which we currently go about surviving and thriving. One thing I try to remind myself, is that everyone in this world has those moments of self doubt and pity, but we can not live there. The sun will always set and rise again and we will be given a new chance to try our upmost sooner than we think.  

First and foremost, we are human! There are going to be occasions in which we lose momentum, our focus and patience with ourselves. We may take a dip in our positive mentalities, the willingness to help our bodies and perhaps the ease and ability of what we thought were within our limits.  Yet, we remain alive and therefore I think it is important to point out that we therefore remain, undefeated. Our bodies and egos slightly wounded perhaps, but undefeated nonetheless.  

I started to think of the things that could potentially pull me out of my own setbacks. They happen so often that I needed a reborn clarity towards them. When I have reached the point of a setback, the last thing I want to do is progress forward, again. I firstly think to myself, oh please no, not again! Yet something deep inside keeps me moving forward, even when I foolishly tell myself that I have lost my mojo. The early thoughts of fighting back are slightly comforting, the reality and hard work behind the ambition is much different. I feel weak, worn out, tired, immobilised and broken, the last thing on my mind is to get back on the horse and try again. Yet ultimately, I know full well that this is my one shot at life, as it is yours. Are you going to fall off the horse more than your fair share of times and just walk away? Are you going to let something like an illness continue to ruin your ambition, hope and potential? Are you going to lose your sparkle and believe that you will never get it back because of consuming forms of pain? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there and it is a hopeless situation. Why would any of us want to keep on believing unhelpful thoughts towards a setback?

 If we saw our setbacks from a different perspective  would we perhaps feel a different element of positive comfort? What if realistically, this has the potential to be the last time you fell off the horse into full blown discouragement? What if the changes you have been waiting for and working hard to achieve, are just around the corner? You will never know if you do not continue onwards and upwards, in both mentality and physicality. Discouragement is ok for the soul once in a while, as long as we do not live in such a place. Discouragement is there to excel us into a better position, to keep us pressing onwards, even when you feel worn out, broken and tired of losing. 

We never really lose, we just fall down for a moment and tally off another victory on our chart. What looks like a failure can sometimes be a victory. A shift in mindset can change your perception on how you view a setback or major discouragement within your circumstances. It is ok to be sad, hurt, worried, but what good does it bring when that is a constant part of your reality? Setbacks in chronic illness do not always have to be a place in which we feel we should scold our inner self but instead, encourage ourselves that we can and we will rise again, with both fire and desire in our belly.  


  1. Thanks for this post Nancy. This month has probably been the hardest since my diagnosis. My illness had become too much to bare and my mental health had taken a real knocking. I decided enough was enough and have made some big life decisions to be safe and re group and figure out what my next move is. The problem is everything we do involves extra consideration. Will that job make me Ill again? Is that house close enough for someone to help me should I need them? Thanks again, it's nice to know we're not alone. Xxx

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