I am so excited today to turn the mic over to Chris Morris of Chris Morris Writes. Chris has walked the road of chronic illness with his own medical challenges and in the role of the caretaker. I have had the pleasure to read a pre-release copy of Chris' soon-to-be-released book, you ARE enough: Myths About Chronic Illness where he talks about the many myths we encounter while traveling through the world of chronic illness. I am so thankful he agreed to share with us. I know you are going to find his insights helpful.
Let’s be really honest with each other for a moment. Living with a chronic illness is tough. Some days, it feels impossible.
My daughter is autistic and epileptic, and I have a seizure disorder as well, so we have learned a lot about what makes living with chronic illness so difficult.
People don’t seem to understand the struggles we have. They confuse our illness with slowness, or silently think we are faking our pain somehow.
But that is not even the hardest part. At least not for our family.
The hardest part about living with or loving someone with a chronic illness is this myth: You are not enough because you are ill.
Whether we suffer from arthritis, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, emphysema, cancer, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or autism, we are less than everyone else because we are ill and may not get better. And nothing can change this, other than a complete recovery.
It is so easy to believe this myth. For example, because of my seizure disorder I cannot swim alone. I am a thirty-six year old man. I am 6’7”. I have an MBA in Health Systems Management. I am competent in many things…
But I cannot swim alone, because if I have a seizure I could drown.
How ridiculous is that! And yet, it is my reality, because of my chronic illness. With almost insane restrictions on our lives at times, it is so easy to buy the lie that says we are “less than”, that we are incomplete human beings.
This myth leads to so many other statements which are also untrue:
- We don’t deserve to be healthy.
- Our current health is the only determinant for success in life.
- There is something wrong with us when we are not hopeful about the future.
We must overcome these myths to move forward. Otherwise, we risk despondency and an empty life. It all comes down to a choice.
We must choose hope.
Hope is not dependent upon our health. We do not earn hope. We should not see ourselves as unworthy of hope.
We are enough. You are enough. Regardless of any chronic condition.
But it is hard. The world around us screams we are defined by our accomplishments, our material goods, our physical strength or beauty, or our salary. Some or all of these external “proofs” of being a successful human being are limited by our illness. So we settle for less, believing the best is reserved for other people. People without the same problems we have.
But we must not settle for less. So what does it look like to choose hope? To believe we are enough? The specific answers are different for each one of us, but certain concepts are universally applicable.
Apply the proper weight to your limitations. So, I am a middle-aged, 79-inch giant who cannot swim alone. This is a legitimate limitation on my life, and I can fixate on it if I choose. Or I can work around it.
Honestly, I didn't plan to be an Olympic swimmer, and I don’t even like swimming that much, so swimming in company is not that big of a deal for me. So I choose not to swim alone. And I don’t berate myself for it.
Stop hiding your dreams behind your illness. This is a tough one to swallow some days. It is so simple to blame our illness for not chasing our passions. Now sometimes, this is just bottom-line truth, and there is no unnecessary victimization happening. The quadriplegic with dreams of being a marathon runner may need to adjust some. But the person with chronic fatigue syndrome need not let their dream of being a poet be held captive by their illness. Don’t let your dream die on the vine of your imagination because of your condition.
It is because of these challenges we all face that I am in the final stages of publishing my book you ARE enough: Myths About Chronic Illness. The gist of the book is that those with chronic illness (and those who love sufferers of a chronic illness) believe myths or lies that keep us from stepping into a full life. Fundamentally, this is because we become convinced we are NOT enough, that we are disqualified from greatness or excellence because of our illness.
I also write regularly on my blog Chris Morris Writes, and I hope you will stop by. If you need hope, encouragement, and strategies to push through some crazy circumstances, what you find on my blog will help. We need a community to lift us up, practical steps to help us when we feel lost, and reminders of God’s goodness. Above all, we need to know we are not alone.
Carey again: As soon as Chris' book is published I will let my readers know so you can read more of his insights and when you have a chance please stop by his website where he shares encouraging words weekly.