1) Millions of people live with one or more chronic illnesses.
One of the most important things to understand about chronic illness, whether you’re living with one, or know someone who is, is that chronic illness is real.
Millions of people live with a chronic illness that causes them daily pain, fatigue, mental anguish, anxiety, digestive issues, and/or brain fog.
This is a stark reality backed by medical evidence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fibromyalgia is estimated to have affected 5 million adults in 2005.
According to a recent article published by FMaware.org, fibromyalgia now affects an estimated 10 million people in the United States and an estimated three to six percent of the total world population.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The CDC has estimated that more than one million Americans have chronic fatigue syndrome and that this condition affects more people in the United States than multiple sclerosis, lupus, and many forms of cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that a startling 52.5 million American adults live with some form of arthritis. That equates to approximately 23 percent of the population!
2) People with chronic illness often DO NOT LOOK SICK.
Perhaps even more important than statistics is the fact that many people with chronic illness do not look sick. When healthy people picture ‘sick’, it’s usually someone laid up in bed with a cold or in a hospital receiving chemotherapy. These signs of acute illness are quite obvious.
However, chronic illness often presents in a more subtle way. We humans are highly adaptable. For example, if we go blind, our hearing improves. If we lose a dominant hand, our use of the remaining limb improves. If we receive a brain injury, the uninjured parts of the organ compensate.
This amazing adaptability is designed for our survival. However, in the case of chronic illness, it can sometimes be a hindrance. Not the adaptability itself, but how it appears to outside observers.
After living for months, years, or even decades with chronic pain, those who have it become incredibly adept at both enduring and hiding it.
One, endurance naturally rises over time. Two, people who live with chronic pain do not want to stand out for a number of reasons, including:
- We become exhausted from explaining our condition over and over again.
Imagine you’ve been fighting a bad case of bronchitis for weeks. You’re miserable, exhausted, in pain, and irritable. Now, pretend for a moment that all signs of your bronchitis are invisible to others. In other words, you look perfectly healthy on the outside, even though you feel horrible on the inside.
If someone were to ask, “How are you?”, it would take a lot less effort and energy to say, “I’m fine” rather than, “I’ve had bronchitis for weeks. My lungs are filling up with fluid. I feel like there’s an elephant sitting on my chest every time I try to take a deep breath. My muscles ache, my stomach hurts from coughing, and I have enough phlegm in my throat to choke a horse.”
Honestly, which response would you rather get?
- We’re not looking for pity or sympathy.
Most people with chronic illness do everything they can to disguise the fact that they have one. The last thing we want is for people to see us on the street and cluck their tongues with sympathy while offering prayers for our recovery.
Don’t get me wrong, we understand these are well-intentioned gestures, but it quickly gets embarrassing and only serves as a shameful reminder that we are not like everyone else.
- We don’t want to be taken advantage of.
Those living with mental disorders and/or learning disabilities are often more easily taken advantage of because we can be too naïve and trusting or be unable to process what’s happening fast enough in order to realize we’ve stumbled into a bad situation.
As a woman on the spectrum who also lives with mental illness, believe me when I tell you I have an unfortunate amount of experience in this particular area.
- We don’t want your natural human instinct to ‘thin the herd’ to come out.
Every animal has an innate instinct to allow natural selection to thin out the population of those who cannot survive on their own.
Harsh? Maybe. True? Absolutely.
Despite our intellectual and spiritual growth as a species, we still carry with us our original survival instincts.
Whether we want to or not, whether we think it’s morally right or wrong, our gut tells most of us to turn our time, attention, and care away from someone who appears as though they may be a burden to society.
According to statistics, the chronically ill among us are more apt to be bullied, excluded, and taken advantage of than our healthier counterparts.
3) Chronic illness cannot be cured, but, it CAN be put into remission.
“Cure” is a strange word. It seems to suggest that some form of medical, spiritual, or natural approach has the ability to turn back time and make it as though the disease never occurred.
Excepting miracles, this simply cannot happen. When you’re living with a chronic illness, your physiology and mental constitution modify and adapt to your situation.
Those modifications are like scars. They either remain for a lifetime or take years to fade away. Still, even after that, some remnant of the illness will remain.
This is why “remission” is a much more hopeful and realistic word to me.
Putting your chronic illness into remission is not only possible, it’s highly probable, if you approach healing in the correct order.
Step 1: Eliminate
The first step to successfully putting chronic illness into remission is eliminating anything and everything that triggers it or makes it worse. This means eliminating toxic food, toxic chemicals, toxic people, and toxic situations from your life.
Step 2: Detoxify
Once you have eliminated chronic illness triggers, you will then be ready to detoxify your mind, body, and soul.
Step 3: Rebuild
As a fully detoxified person, you will then be ready to rebuild with a healthy diet, exercise, and relaxation techniques.
Step 4: Maintain
Once you’ve stabilized your condition(s) and recovered your strength, you will then be ready to maintain your new-found stability by continuing to nurture yourself.
These are the only four steps you need to put your chronic illness into remission.
For a more comprehensive guide on how to do this, click on the link below to get your copy of my book: