5 Life Lessons I Learned from an Autoimmune Disease Flare (+ Chronic Health Issues)
I’m standing in front of the bathroom mirror, tears welling up in my eyes as I fight through yet another autoimmune flare. I want to feel sorry for myself and just sit on the floor and cry, but I don’t. I’ve been there, done that and I’m so over it. So I start thinking of ways to turn this awful feeling into something positive + beautiful ... and I began to make a list of all the life lessons I’ve learned over the past 7+ years of these chronic health struggles.
#1 Tough times won’t last forever.
As much as it feels like the pounding headaches, achy joints, and severe anxiety are going to last forever some days, the end of an autoimmune flare (or rough couple days) does eventually come and with it a sigh of relief and gratitude. Whether you’re fighting an autoimmune disease or just having a rough week, things will start to get better. You can have faith that tough times won’t last forever.
#2 It’s okay to ask for help.
For some reason asking for help is one of the hardest things for us to do as adults. Kids seem to have no trouble doing this + we could learn a thing or two from them. Your family and friends want to be there for you and it’s a sign of strength (not weakness) to let them help you in whatever way you need. Maybe it’s as simple as hanging out with you for an extra hour when you’re not feeling well or picking up your kids from school during a crazy week. We aren’t meant to go through life alone, especially during tough times.
#3 Just do the next right thing.
When you’re in the middle of a rough patch and feel like a pile of poo (either physically, emotionally or both!), the best thing to do is just take it one step at a time. When I narrow my focus on just doing the next right thing — whether it’s making myself breakfast or changing my son’s diaper — the day seems to run much smoother. It brings about a sense of peace and relief to embrace this single minded focus and helps me make it through even the toughest of days.
#4 You are so much stronger than you think.
There have been days when I seriously thought God overestimated my abilities in handling the tough times in my life. For me its been chronic health struggles, but for you it may be something else. Rest assured that you are so much stronger than you think and that there’s nothing God can’t lead you through.
#5 Prayer + Positive Thinking are powerful.
When I get too busy trying to tough it out on my own and stop asking God for help, that’s when things become a million times harder. Daily prayer is a game changer, but I’ve found that asking God for help isn’t enough if I don’t trust that He will actually take care of me. Sometimes we can get so caught up in a negative thought process — I’m never going to get healthy, I don’t think I can do this anymore, this isn’t fair, I don’t deserve this — that we forget to find the beauty in suffering. Our daily struggles, no matter how big or small, offer a way for us to unite our pain and suffering with Christ and allow us to learn to love more deeply, to live more fully, and to love more beautifully in the way He loves us. This is the most powerful lesson I’ve learned from my chronic health struggles — pain and suffering can either consume you + harden your heart to the world OR pain and suffering can free you + teach you to love in such a way that brings deeper joy, peace, and meaning to your life and allows you to better love those around you (including yourself.) And the craziest part — the choice is yours!
These are my hard-fought, time-earned, and ever-evolving life lessons I’ve learned from the past 7+ years of having countless autoimmune flares + chronic health issues. I’m sharing these with you in hopes of giving some much needed hope + encouragement to anyone going through something similar to my journey or anyone going through something extremely difficult in their life right now.
You can do hard things. You can endure more pain and suffering then you ever thought possible. You CAN be the most beautiful version of yourself not in spite of this trial and it’s pain and suffering but because of this trial and it’s pain and suffering. Embrace the pain, learn to let go of control, let God lead you, and let it transform you into the most beautiful version of yourself.
I believe God has a beautiful plan for your life (+ mine) and this is just the beginning...