THINGS I'VE LEARNED ABOUT LIFE WHILE LIVING WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS

Specifically complications from the birth defect gastroschisis, which you can learn about here if you're curious//en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastroschisis
  1. Optimism isn't exclusive from depression
    I consider myself an optimistic person. Realizing I would never get "better" challenged that; feeling hopeless challenged that. It made me feel unlike myself. The key is to allow a world where you can feel disappointed and scared and depressed AND optimistic. Also helpful is redefining your hope :)
  2. "Fighting" illness isn't always as empowering a term as it may seem
    There's really not much you can do to "fight" sickness other than try to keep a good attitude (which is incredibly powerful!) but it's unfair to then feel like you "lost" a fight when things don't pan out. "Lost a battle with cancer" for example feels like defeat when really the person probably "fought" just as hard has any other.
  3. Everyone has their own personal biggest struggle - and often it's not visible
    So hug easily - someone may need it and not know how to ask for it.
  4. Suffering is relative - try not to compare your issues with others
    Someone will always have it better and someone will have it worse than you. That doesn't make anyone's pain more or less painful to them or yours to you. Try to use your issues as a way to empathize, not trivialize yours or others' problems.
  5. Sometimes you need to tell people how to help you and ask people how you can help them
    It's frustrating when you don't know how to help someone, and equally frustrating when someone is trying to help but is making things worse. Be open :) Generally everyone has the best intentions
  6. You're stronger than you think :)
    My dad, a cancer and PE survivor, said this to me once. Applies to everyone, not just illness survivors. When you are feeling your weakest is when you are strongest 💪
  7. Just show up
    Loneliness is the worst feeling. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you don't know what to say or do for a loved one who is struggling with whatever their hardship is - send a text, call, visit. Just show up :)