Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Finding gratitude for what life throws at us isn't always an easy task, especially for those with chronic illness. The daily fights for productivity and survival against a chronic illness often leave us physically and emotionally exhausted with little left over at the end of the day for much else. It isn't uncommon for us to feel as though the world is against at times, that we are being punished, that there is no end in sight. We tend to forget that every moment, every trial has something to be gained from the experience.
Gratitude may be found in the smallest of details, tucked away and overshadowed by the stress and chaos that is life. Our darker moments challenge our ability at gratitude; coercing us to focus on our trials and discount the positive, the strength within us that carries us through, and our own progress. Even with distractions, if we look close enough we can find a bit of gratitude shining through the cracks of the darkness.
During my darkest moments of this year my soul was breaking. My turmoil left me feeling terrified and buried alive. I was suffocating from the dark's heaviness. At the end of the passage, my eyes began to focus while I pieced myself back together, I saw the light. It showed me that I survived. I grew. I was becoming. The light was there the entire time, waiting for me to notice. I focused on my own darkness rather than looking for the light. Our default is to focus on our trials. It is far more difficult to shift our focus to find the light.
I look back on my life and I see the light shining brightly through each dark moment of my health issues that left me near death and the debilitating bouts of depression and PTSD. Without these moments, my life would have followed a different path. Guided by my own health experiences, my education and career paths have focused on the medical field and how I can help others with their own health issues. I'm grateful for the paths I'm following; without the darkness of my health challenges, I would be on a different path and I wouldn't be who I am presently.
This gratitude was not easily found though. It would take years before I would see the goodness of my chronic illness. It can be challenging to see the purpose in the darkness; we are left feeling frustrated, defeated, and tormented at times. I held onto my anger, resentfulness, and pain of chronic illness for far too long. It robbed me of appreciation, gratitude, and happiness. When we begin to release ourselves from the bondage of harmful feelings, we allow ourselves to discover purpose through the light.
You may be going through a distressing time yourself or remain haunted by past experiences. It may be difficult to understand at this moment what the purpose is of your trial and to appreciate the darkness. In the quiet moments of the day let your mind take a moment to reflect upon the goodness of your time. It may be small, but the goodness is there waiting for your acknowledgement and gratitude.
This is my life with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and Short Bowel Syndrome. I was diagnosed with FAP as a child, underwent total colectomy at age 9. I experienced life threatening complications resulting in 4 more surgeries that year and developing medical PTSD. I had an ileostomy for 6 years before having it reversed into a straight pull-thru that also resulted in life threatening complications requiring an additional surgery the following year. In 2021, I required my 8th surgery to remove my gall bladder due to gall stones and FAP. This surgery exacerbated my, at the time undiagnosed, Abdominal Migraine which is now being treated.