Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one person’s story.
Feeling adequately supported when you have a chronic illness may seem unattainable, especially since chronic illnesses are long-lasting and can significantly impact your life.
I didn’t think I could ever feel as supported and at peace as I am now.
I went through most of my life feeling isolated, lonely, and angry because of the way my life was consumed by my illnesses. It took a huge toll on my mental and physical health, especially because flares of my autoimmune disease are triggered by stress.
Several years ago, I committed to changing my life in a positive way. Instead of feeling destroyed by chronic illness, I wanted to find a way to feel fulfilled.
Quotes, mottos, and mantras ended up playing a huge role in this transformation. I needed constant reminders to help me accept my reality, practice gratitude, and remind me that it was okay to feel the way that I did.
So, I started to make signs to put on my walls and mirrors, and filled them with words that helped to pull me out of the mindset I had been in for my entire life.
Here are eight of my favorites:
“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.” — Rita Schiano
While it can be difficult not to focus on the physical pain and exhaustion I feel, there’s only so much I can say about it before I start making myself suffer unnecessarily.
I’ve found that it’s still important to talk about flares and feeling extra sick, but it’s even more important to stop. The pain is real and valid, but after I’ve said what I need to say, it serves me more to focus on the good.
“The grass is greener where you water it.” — Neil Barringham
Comparison made me feel extremely isolated. This quote has helped me to remember that everyone has problems, even those whose grass seems greener.
Rather than longing for someone else’s green grass, I find ways to make mine greener.
“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” — Unknown
On days when I’ve felt like I can’t bounce back, or even ones that I dread from the moment I wake up, I always try to push myself to find at least one ‘good’ every day.
What I’ve learned is that there is always a good, but most of the time, we’re too distracted to see it. Taking notice of the little things that make your life worth living can, honestly, be life-changing in and of itself.
“My path may be different, but I am not lost” — Unknown
I keep this quote in mind often when I get stuck playing the comparison game. I’ve had to go about doing certain things differently than most people for a long time — one of the most recent being graduating college a full year late.
At times, I felt inadequate in comparison to my peers, but I realized that I’m not on their path, I’m on mine. And I know I can get through it without anyone showing me how it’s done first.
One of the happiest moments in life may be when you find the courage to let go of what you can’t change.” — Unknown
Accepting that my illness is not going away (lupus currently doesn’t have a cure) was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.
The pain and suffering that came with thinking about what my diagnoses would mean for my future was overwhelming and made me feel like I had absolutely no control of my life. Like this quote says, having the courage to let go of the false sense of control is vital.
All we can do to be at peace in the face of an incurable illness is to let it be and know that it’s not all entirely in our control.
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” — John Lennon
This is one of my favorite quotes because it offers so much hope. There have been so many times that I’ve felt like I’d never feel better than how I did in that moment. Making it to the next day felt impossible.
But it wasn’t the end, and I have always, always made it through.
“You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.” — Unknown
This quote has always encouraged me to recognize my own strength. It helped me to believe in myself and begin to see myself as a ‘strong’ person, rather than all of the things that I told myself I was because of my chronic illnesses.
“I’ve seen better days, but I’ve also seen worse. I don’t have everything that I want, but I do have all I need. I woke up with some aches and pains, but I woke up. My life may not be perfect, but I am blessed.” — Unknown
One of the most valuable coping skills I use when I’m having a bad day is finding appreciation for the smallest things. I love this quote because it reminds me not to take anything for granted, even simply waking up in the morning.
From childhood to adulthood, I harbored resentment toward my body for not cooperating with the life I wanted to live.
I wanted to be on the playground, not sick in bed. I wanted to be at the fair with my friends, not home with pneumonia. I wanted to be excelling in my college courses, not frequenting hospitals for testing and treatment.
I tried to open up about these feelings to my friends and family over the years, even being honest about feeling envious of their good health. Having them tell me that they understood made me feel slightly better, but that relief was short-lived.
Each new infection, missed event, and hospital visit brought me back to feeling so incredibly alone.
I needed someone who could constantly remind me that it was okay that my health is messy, and that I can still live fully despite it. It took a while for me to find her, but I finally know now that that someone is me.
By exposing myself daily to various supportive quotes and mantras, I challenged all the anger, jealousy, and sadness inside of me to find healing in the words of others — without needing anyone to believe in them and remind me, besides me.
Choose gratitude, let go of the life your illness may have taken from you, find ways to live a similar life in a way that’s acceptable to you, show compassion for yourself, and know that at the end of the day, everything is going to be okay.
We cannot change our illnesses, but we can change our mindsets.
Dena Angela is an aspiring author who strongly values authenticity, service, and empathy. She shares her personal journey on social media in hopes of raising awareness and lessening isolation for individuals living with chronic physical and mental illnesses. Dena has systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Her work has been featured in Women’s Health magazine, Self magazine, HelloGiggles, and HerCampus. The things that make her most happy are painting, writing, and dogs. She can be found on Instagram.