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Finding My Way Back to Gratitude in Spite of a Chronic Illness

By HERWriter
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Finding My Way Back to Gratitude Despite a Chronic Illness kichigin19/Fotolia

I was flattened for a very long time by a chronic condition. During a number of those years of living with ME/CFS, any talk of gratitude would have filled me with fury.

I wasn't grateful. And the very suggestion that I should be would have sounded to me like my being sick was a good thing, or an insignificant thing. That wasn't really getting in my way, hadn't really altered my life to the point that it no longer resembled a life at all.

It would have felt like my suffering was being negated and discounted in a world that already negated and discounted me daily.

Before I got sick with ME/CFS, I was no stranger to gratitude. In many tough situations I would find and focus on reasons to be grateful, because I knew it was good for me.

But after years of illness and loss, I had no appetite for that anymore. The very idea just seemed grotesque. It looked to me like a form of pretending. And I thought it just made it easier for other people to write off my suffering.

I stayed angry for many years.

Ultimately, it didn't bring me any relief. I was obsessed with the wrong-doings and dismissals that I endured during my worst years. There was so much bad in my life, and it was all I could see.

I had had a habit earlier in my life of downplaying my hurts, of hiding how I felt, so as not to upset other people. That went completely by the wayside, and a few people got shocked more than once and must have wondered who I was.

I think that I had to go through that angry time. I needed to step up and say out loud, "Hey! I don't like this. I'm not accepting this. Don't come here looking for a happy face to make you feel better. No faking here. What you see is the real deal. And it isn't pretty."

I don't know if I would have come through the other side on all that if I had remained so ill. It's entirely possible that my ability to feel, and to cultivate, gratitude came about in part because my circumstances improved.

Over time, things were getting better. I was able to work. I was able to be up and about, drive a car — if only to the next small town — and do some shopping — even if I was only capable for an hour or so at a time.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Beautiful article, Jody. I think "I'm coming over to do some laundry" is the most compassionate thing anyone can ever say. Hoping for your continued wellness.November 10, 2015 - 6:04pm
HERWriter (reply to Misty Jacobs)


I couldn't agree more.:) Thanks for your encouragement.


November 11, 2015 - 7:51am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.