One thing chronic illness guarantees is uncertainty.
No matter how much we might like to think we have things under control, our bodies, our diseases, always find a way of creating times of chaos, confusion, fear and uncertainty.
Sometimes it happens on a daily basis, sometimes every few months or just unexpectedly out of the blue. Whatever the case, uncertainty and facing an uncertain future over and over again, is inevitable.
Our greatest enemy living with chronic disease is fear. It’s really life’s greatest enemy.
Fear is crippling. It stops us from moving forward. It sucks hope out of life. It creates conversations in our minds which take us on a path to despair.
Basically fear seeks to destroy us.
While it’s completely understandable to have times in our lives when we are afraid, we simply can’t allow fear to dominate. We might not be able to control our diseases but we can learn ways to control our fear and replace it with peace and hope.
I don’t have a psychology degree or medical training of any kind but I have lived with the twists and turns of a progressive, sinister idiopathic disease for nearly 10 years.
Every new health episode has had overwhelming horrors attached and, as a result, I’ve been forced to make life changing decisions along the way.
Fear has threatened to overwhelm me at times. Not for long though. I simply don’t like that overwhelming, out of control feeling.
I know it only happens when I’m just focusing on the crisis issue. I’m not thinking big picture when fear envelopes. I’m allowing my disease to be who I am.
It’s not who I am. It’s a part of me but I’m so much more than someone with a chronic disease.
We all have a life outside of our diseases and underneath it all, our very core, our essence, is still there.
If we can take our focus away from our current uncertainties, for even an hour, and focus on something we love in life, we can begin to clear our minds so we can start to find ways to face an uncertain future.
Facing The Uncertainties
So how can we face an uncertain future when a diagnosis or new symptoms are just downright terrifying?
It’s not easy but it is possible.
Fear tries to remove hope, so I’m going to start right here.
Without hope we are lost.
I have my faith which helps me considerably. There’s a beautiful little hymn which sums up my first step towards restoring hope and turning my back on fear.
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
If I just look to my own strength and try and journey through a dark period on my own, I’ll fail miserably.
When I pray and leave my troubles in God’s hands, a sense of overwhelming peace floods my soul. My life has a purpose and it’s in God’s hand, not in the depth of the fear that seeks to overwhelm it.
Praying is in essence talking to a friend.
Sometimes fear cripples us so much it prevents us from reaching out to others.
The more we isolate ourselves, the more our fear has the opportunity to grow. Alone with our own thoughts, our own conversation, fear is winning.
To reach out to others and let them know what’s happening in your life is absolutely freeing.
Suddenly you are not alone. You can hear a voice other than your own. A voice of reason perhaps helping you through the dark days. A comforting voice letting you know you won’t be alone even if the path ahead is uncertain.
A flicker of hope begins. Even if it’s just enough to begin to give you the confidence to know you will find strength for the uncertain future….it’s a start towards turning your back on fear.
It’s a start towards facing the uncertain future.
Just Do It
I know many people with chronic disease feel their friends and family don’t understand and you don’t feel confident opening up to them. You may feel you’re a burden or they are all tired of your illness. These are messages fear likes to give us.
Sometimes we just have to decide to trust our friends and family. We might be pleasantly surprised at the response if we decide to kick fear aside and reach out anyway.
There are other ways to share our fears and allow hope in. It’s why I founded my closed Facebook support forum Medical Musings with Friends. It’s always a safe place to connect with others living with chronic and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits anyone living with or caring for someone with chronic disease.
Sometimes we just have to do it. Send the text you really want to send asking for help. Make the phone call to a friend or family member letting them know you have another health challenge and need to talk about it.
Just do it. Give hope a chance to ignite its flame. Don’t allow fear to cut you off and leave you feeling helpless and crippled. Our diseases do a good job of that without any additional help from our own fears.
If you are facing an uncertain future, please know you are not alone. Reaching out to crisis lines, family, friends, online support groups, are all ways to start you on a journey towards accepting the next leg of your chronic illness adventure.
Once you open the gate of communication with others, you’ll be surprised how much lighter your burden will feel. You’ll be surprised at how much clearer your thinking will become.
You’ll soon be making strategies to deal with your uncertain future.
You’ll soon be back on track living life with more certainties than uncertainties.
Hope can and will replace fear.
I’m a regular Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page
I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women