Who Knew I Would Ever Feel Grateful For Having A Chronic Illness?

Grateful. Chronic Illness. Together in the Same Sentence?!

You might be sitting here thinking “Yeah right, you can’t be serious, grateful for having a chronic illness, whatever! You’re nuts!”

But it’s true.

It is possible to find happiness, to be grateful, even after life has dealt you a crappy hand.

When you get chronically sick, what it boils down to is this:

  • A stranger telling you that your life is about to fall apart.
  • A stranger telling you that all that you know, that you depend on, that makes you feel safe, comfortable, secure, that makes you who you are, is going to change. Forever.·

And there is nothing you can do about it.

Change is inevitable, it can often be good, but when a change is imposed on you, when it comes with (many!) limitations, as is the case with chronic illness, there is a mourning period for the loss of an old life.

A life where limitations didn’t really exist, where basic functions like walking and having control over one’s body were taken for granted, assumed to always be there.

It’s easy to think about how much simpler life was before everything imploded.  

So it may seem counterintuitive, a tad crazy even, that I would feel grateful for having a chronic illness.

It can change your life in so-many not-so-good ways. Boy, can it ever!

But there is a flip side to every coin: Life can also be changed in many good ways.

Rather than looking at how chronic illness and disability limits my life, I try to look at how I can live well despite it.

There was a time when any talk of gratitude about my illness, of finding the valuable life lessons, the elusive Silver Lining, anything Pollyanna-esque, would have filled me with anger and indignation.

Well-intentioned but totally-missed-the-mark comments from people like “You’re still alive, you should be grateful for that!” would leave me thinking “Ok, fair point, I am grateful for that, but I still can’t move my frigging legs! I’m 24 years old and stuck in a wheelchair. Know anything about that, huh?!”

I wasn’t grateful. I was pissed off.

It’s a natural part of the healing process, to grieve what was once there but is now gone.

But there comes a point at which we must pick ourselves off the floor and get back on the horse.

Survival depends on learning to build something new from a changed reality.

For me, that meant searching within and making a conscious choice: A choice that I would make something positive of my new normal, this new chapter in my life, despite the crap-quota of cards I was holding.  

My old life was gone, replaced by something entirely unfamiliar, uncomfortable and downright painful (in every literal sense of the word), but somehow, someway, I knew I would survive.

Correction: Not just survive, I knew I would thrive.

And I have.

Let’s be clear: It’s not my intention to downplay or sugar coat anything here. Dealing with a chronic illness can really, really suck.

You are constantly challenged and it seems like you are always facing an uphill battle. Two steps forward and about a dozen back.

If I were given a choice not to have this illness, I’d gladly take it. I’m sure anyone in a similar position would do the same.

But I can hand-on-heart say that I have come to a point in my life where I recognise that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if this hadn’t been part of my journey.

I have grown and become a better person because of my chronic illness. It’s led me on an expedition of self-awareness and improvement, survival, love.

I’ve found a way to be happy, engaged with life, and to keep working towards my dreams, even with illness and limitation.

Instead of being constantly consumed by pain or what is lacking, I choose to appreciate what I do have:

  • “Not in as much pain as yesterday…epic WOOOO HOOOO moment!”
  • “Day 20 and my right leg finally came back on-line – cheers to not swimming in a wonky circle anymore!”
  • “Koko Black zen time = bliss.”
  • “Chai time with my boys {heart}.”*

*Extracts from my daily scribblings in my gratitude journal.

By changing my focus for how I view and experience the world, a door has opened to a greater level of joy in my life.

“Focus on what you have instead of what you don’t. On what’s right in your world instead of what’s wrong. On where you’re going instead of what you’ve been through.”

– Billy Cox

I’m (beyond!) grateful for the good days.

I can (most of the time!) find happiness and satisfaction even on the worst days.

This isn’t about (falsely) convincing yourself that you are Pollyanna 24/7 and everything is just awesome. I’m never grateful when crap happens to me, at least not at the time.

This isn’t about plastering a smile to your face and applying a Band-Aid to your unhappiness, pretending that everything is ok when it’s not.

This isn’t, as my beautiful friend Kelly Owens, writer at ‘A Jumble of Things,‘ so eloquently put it:

“I’m not asking you to shit sparkles and ride unicorns in rush hour every day – my plea is only for you to remember that the past is better left in the past, and present moments that may be shitty don’t have to be your prequel to the Dark Side. If you live like every day is a tragedy, every tomorrow will be too.”

What it is, is a way to shift focus, however brief that may be, from the never-ending crap-quota that comes with chronic illness.

To take charge over that which you still have power – thoughts, attitude, approach to life – to create a sense of wellbeing that has the ability to transcend the iron hold of chronic illness.

While the problems and obstacles don’t disappear and I don’t pretend that they don’t exist – how could I possibly? – I am so happy, so grateful, to be living this life of mine.  

Even if I can’t always feel all of my limbs!

What do you feel grateful for even when you are going through a tough time(s)?

Like this post? Then share it!

All photos and content the property of Starbrite Warrior and Bree Hogan. Not to be reproduced without permission.

105 thoughts on “Who Knew I Would Ever Feel Grateful For Having A Chronic Illness?”

  1. Cath says:

    Wow, you just made my day! You have inspired me to stay positive despite the circumstances. Thank you so much.

  2. Jess says:

    What a fantastic, honest post. You should be proud of yourself and your attitude – it’s refreshing. My bRotherham suffers from cereal polsy so it gave me an insight into what my brother goes through on a daily basis. Your are doing amazing!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you for your kind words and encouragement Jess. I’m sure your brother will appreciate your new understanding into his world. Xx

  3. When the doctor told me I could NEVER run again, I cried. After he left the room, I wanted to vomit. I had to grieve that loss. I still think about running. I still miss it. But the two years I spent healing, doing physical therapy, Sitting down – A LOT were really great for growing my relationship with my daughter. I couldn’t DO anything for her, I had to just be with her. While I’m better, I’ll never be the same. I’m chronically ill or injured, just didn’t win the genetic lottery, but I enjoy spending those hours and hours I would have spent running with my family instead. I guess I needed the kick in the pants to change my focus.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Hi Jennifer, thanks so much for sharing your story with me. It is completely natural to grieve that which we could once do. It’s a loss. I will often catch myself looking at people running past me on the walking track – while I’m zipping along on my mobility scooter – and think man, I wish I could go for a run! And the funny thing is, I never really much liked running, but it’s become all-the-more appealing now because it’s no longer an option for me. So I can’t imagine how you must have felt/feel, knowing how much you actually enjoyed running. It’s lovely that you have been able to find something good in that journey, with the quality time that you are able to spend with your daughter and other members of your family. As they say, there is always a silver lining, the trick is being able to find it! Good luck xx

  4. Janet M (Misa) Matthews says:

    The healing from gratitude. One of my most be loved guided meditations. Such a gift, that I decided to share.

    Ellaeenah Jadefire
    Manifesting – The Healing Power of Gratitude

    You have received a YouTube video!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idXlbIygtzs

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you for sharing your guided meditation Janet, I’m sure a lot of people will appreciate this very thoughtful gift.

  5. Nandini says:

    This is so powerful, and I think you really spoke to me with this one. I struggle with depression and the past two months have been terrible, but your piece reminded me that everything needn’t always seem bad, if only you try and look at the better side. Thank you <3

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you Nandini. I’m sorry to hear that you have been struggling of late. I’m glad this piece speaks to you and has provided you with a bit of solace. I hope that things start to improve for you very soon. Sending gentle hugs, xx

  6. lakisha says:

    You are so brave and I love this. Roll with the punches. Nothing can hold you back! You’re Amazing!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Wow, I should get you to do my PR for me Iakisha, you have made me sound awesome! Love it and thank you so much for your kind words. Xx

  7. Ashley says:

    You have such a great, honest, realistic, grateful attitude. I admire that so much. I was just telling my 9 year old about how life can change so quickly and how adapting to that change is one of the best ways to keep enjoying your life…. haha, not sure she really got it but it’s a start LOL

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      That’s the spirit, start ’em young Ashley, I love it! A healthy dose of realism never hurt anyone. Life can and will take unexpected twists and turns, sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much, but that is our journey and all part of the great unknown. I hope your daughter didn’t roll her eyes too much at you 🙂

  8. Doris says:

    So powerful!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you so much Doris. I’m glad to know that the article has resonated so powerfully with you. Thanks for reading!

  9. Roxanne says:

    Motherhood is hard enough, but when you throw in the demands of managing a chronic illness life gets a little hectic. Glad you could find a place of gratitude.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Gosh Roxanne, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how you juggle both motherhood and a chronic illness. You rock! Any tips? Xx

  10. Robyn Wood says:

    Great post Bree and articulates so well how I feel about having MS. I’m one of the lucky ones, mine is mild but I still have so much to be grateful to it for. I love your spirit and sense of just getting on with life. I wish more people with chronic conditions had this outlook. I wish you much to be grateful for in 2016!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you so much Robyn! I read your own article re: gratitude, ‘Today is the Day!’ and I think it is a beautiful view of the world. I particularly loved how you described celebrating your multiple sclerosis diagnosis as you reflect on the changes and blessings that have come into your life. “It is a time for celebration because having MS has meant staying at home with my sons instead of returning to full time work.” If that isn’t perspective then I don’t know what is! Xx

      1. Robyn Wood says:

        Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply and for linking to my post Bree. I guess perspective comes with age and realising how precious it is to be around to guide my sons into adulthood.

        1. Bree Hogan says:

          My pleasure Robyn, I thought your article was very poignant and insightful. Xx

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you Jessica, I’m glad you feel that way after reading the article 🙂

  11. I love your attitude! I’m also a very optimistic guy, but as a healthy person with nothing to worry that’s easy to say. But nonetheless I’m even more grateful for being able to travel around and see the beauty of this world. I think it’s very important to embrace what we have instead of grieving for things we don’t have.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thanks Stevie 🙂 As I called out in the article, it’s a natural part of the healing process to grieve what was once there but is now gone. But there comes a point at which we need to make a choice: To continue to grieve for what was and stay stuck, or try to move forward in the best way we can and take joy in what we do have.

  12. Aarika says:

    Thanks for sharing this beautifully vulnerable and inspiring post. You have such a fabulous (and realistic) outlook on life and yourself, and I admire your strength. Sending you love, light, and joy!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you Aarika for your lovely kind words. Xx

  13. Chronic illness is terrible and so many women I know have had to rise to the occasion and see it as a gift.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Yep we’ve got to rise alright, Carol! Like a loaf of bread only I reckon much higher than that! Chronic illness is terrible and unfortunately, we just keep seeing more and more of it in the world today.

  14. Kaley says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. This really is something that every person can benefit from at some point in their life.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      My pleasure Kaley, I’m glad to know that you found a benefit in the words and story that I shared.

  15. Bree, I feel ya’. I have had MS for going on 18 years now (wait–can it really have been THAT long??), and while I “look fine” to most people, the daily struggles are real and are easy to give in to if you let the struggle itself be the focus. For me, nerve pain and fatigue are serious things, and I’ve learned (am still learning) that I can either bitch about it nonstop (although I have my moments, believe me), or I can put it in perspective and move along. You encapsulated the reality so well. Thank you for putting a voice to the “upside” of chronic illness and disability!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      I think you have hit the nail on the head with your comments, Dee Dee. The daily struggles are absolutely real – the fatigue, nerve pain, paralysis etc etc – and it can be bloody tough. But many people won’t see this as we become very adept at masking it and just getting on with doing things (within limitations, of course). Its simply part of life and our new reality post-chronic illness diagnosis. Sounds like you and I have a very similar outlook on life – we get knocked down, but we get up again {well, provided the legs are working properly and haven’t gone numb! :-)}! 18 years is such a long time for you, I must say I never thought I’d be saying 11 years this year myself, but wait, I will be! #damninvisibleillness! Xx

      1. I’ve actually been working on a post about my “invisible disability”, so it will be interesting to see how folks respond. You’re doing great with your positive attitude, and you’ll be kicking butt (again, when the legs cooperate! LOL) for years to come. :o)

        1. Bree Hogan says:

          I’d love to read your post about invisible disability when you have posted it Dee Dee, please email me with a link.

          And yup, I will definitely be kicking butt for many years to come…c’mon right leg, reactivate thy self again, lol! Damn numbness! 🙂

  16. Cassandra says:

    You are truly an inspiration! I, myself am forever battling a chronic illness as well, fibromyalgia if you will, I was only recently diagnosed and every new symptom is a new learning curve for me. I don’t let my illness bring me down. I relax and listen to it when I need to, but aside from that it’s full steam ahead. It makes me feel amazing when I see how far I have come despite what ails me. I hope to be an inspiration to others to not let their ailments hold them back, I didn’t and now I have my own Wedding and Event Planning business, the sky is the limit! Every good day is a miracle, every bad day is a reminder to better appreciate the good days.

    PS. I’m not sure what chronic illness you are suffering from but I highly suggest you google the “Budwig diet”

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Hi Cassandra. I’m sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. I don’t have fibro but live with similar symptoms that you may be experiencing – chronic fatigue, chronic nerve pain, muscle weakness, sleep disturbance, etc. I’ve had Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) which is an autoimmune condition that attacks the peripheral nervous system. That was 10, going on 11 years ago, and I live with the ongoing side affects from that.

      I’m glad that you mentioned that you relax and listen to your body when you need to, as I’ve done the other thing way too much in the past (e.g. not listen!) and it’s not good (aka I end up in a flare up). It can be really hard to get the life/work/health balance right, and when I do get a flare things can go to sh!t pretty quickly, but it’s worth it to me to keep plugging away and trying.

      Thank you for the suggestion re: the Budwig diet. I did google it as I’m always interested to learn new things and see what is out there. I personally follow a gluten free, vegan eating regime which has worked incredibly well for me over the past 5 years and been integral in my healing.

      It sounds like you have an amazing attitude and determination to reach your goals, well done on the Wedding and Event Planning biz! Illnesses may delay us in pursuing our dreams but they don’t have to stop us from reaching them! I wish you well in your endeavours. Xx

  17. Stargazer says:

    I like your optimism. I wish you all the best!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you so much Stargazer 🙂

  18. What a fantastic and uplifting post!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you so much The Cornish Zebra 🙂

  19. Really amazing information and perspective. Here’s to an amazing 2016!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you so much Jennifer 🙂 Cheers to an amazing 2016!

  20. Angie Scheie says:

    I love this so much, and it can be applied to all kinds of life altering sucky situations. I’m sorry that you are enduring this chronic illness, but your perspective on it is inspiring!

  21. Great read. You have a great outlook on life. Thanks for sharing and always be grateful!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thanks Amanda, the attitude/life outlook is what keeps me going. I love my daily gratitude journal, never fails to bring a smile to my face, particularly when I look back over past entries.

  22. What a fantastic blog post! It’s exactly what I needed to read. It’s such an important exercise to take inventory of the good in life. I’ve been working on self thought and intention lately and this hit home for me. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      My pleasure Warren, I’m glad to know that my words have resonated with you. I wish you well on your exploration of self-thought and intention. I’m sure you will learn some valuable things about yourself along the way.

  23. Fox says:

    I have a chronic pain condition and am currently in the middle of an excruciating flare up. These typically last between 1-3 weeks, and can happen as frequently as every month, sooo needless to say I am less than thrilled and feeling less than grateful at this point.

    I might need to get a gratitude journal, or make a notebook into a gratitude journal. On days like today it’s hard to feel anything but bitter and the sharp ache of my literal and emotional pain.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      I’m so sorry to hear you are in the midst of a terrible pain flare up, Fox, I can very much empathise with you. Chronic pain flares are horrendous and like you say, can last for weeks, even months, at a stretch, with no break or end in sight. I really, really feel for you right now 🙁

      The problems and obstacles don’t disappear with gratitude; we can’t pretend that they don’t exist because they do. But I personally find that focusing on something good in my day (it can be absolutely anything, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to someone else), gives me a reprieve, however brief it may be, from focusing on all the other things that are going not-quite-right (a slight understatement!) in that moment.

      I truly hope that your pain flare up goes away sooner rather than later. Sending gentle hugs your way. Xx

  24. Sheena says:

    Wow. This brought tears to my eyes. You are a strong, inspiring person. My 4 year old son started having seizures a year ago. We’ve been told it’s something he’ll never outgrow, never drive a car, never do a lot of things we’d dreamed about him being able to do… It’s easy to feel down and depressed… I feel gratitude for the lessons I’ve learned about myself, for the love of my family and friends. Positive from the negative, best way to live life! Thank you for sharing your story!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you, Sheena, for your lovely kind words and for sharing your own story with me. Your family has certainly had a challenging time over the past year. A diagnosis like your son’s so early in his life has undoubtedly been so very hard on you all. And you’re so right – it’s easy to feel down about it, heck, that’s part of the grieving process – but it sounds like you are also aware of the importance of trying to make the best out of your/your son’s situation. You are one tough Mumma bear and your son will shine because of your guidance and outlook on life. Xx

  25. Nathalie says:

    Great post, love your positive attitude, it’s what I instil in my son who battles with severe allergies and eczema daily! Staying positive makes every day, and life in general, much easier! ?

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Ahhh, allergies and eczema, what a combo your son has Nathalie, poor little fella! I have hands that crack and split, one of the downsides to poor circulation, and I know how painful/itchy that can be, so I can only imagine what your son must go through. It certainly sounds like you are a great role model and set a positive example for him. He will shine thanks to your guidance. Xx

  26. Savvy Self says:

    Perfect example of how to turn a less pleasant situation into a positive one. Keep up the inspirational writing!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you so much Savy Self! I’ll certainly do my best re: the writing thing 🙂

  27. Maureen says:

    I loved reading your post. Although, I don’t have a chronic illness I do have chronic pain and some days it can really get you down. Thanks for your honesty and sharing your journey!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      I put chronic pain in the same bucket as chronic illness, Maureen. As someone else who also lives everyday with the harsh realities of chronic pain, I can very much empathise with your situation and the inner strength/will/determination it takes to get up each day and make the most of life. To be happy. To not get sucked down by the crap-quota of cards (my fav saying!) that have been dealt. I wish you all the best. Sending gentle hugs. Xx

  28. Hannah says:

    Awesome article with such a great outlook! I am so glad that we are finding ways to improve our minds whenever we cannot physically fix our bodies.
    Keep up the great work!

    In my thoughts,
    Hannah
    Southernseams.blogspot.com

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thanks Hannah! The mind-body connection is so powerful; the challenge is in figuring out how to harness that energy to positively impact our health and wellbeing. Always a work-in-progress me thinks!

  29. Kim says:

    Love your outlook. Many people would benefit from reading this post!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thanks so much Kim! I feel the same way – this post would benefit many people – so please don’t hesitate to share it 🙂

      Btw, I LOVE the name of your blog, ‘Always A New Day,’ such a great way to view the world.

  30. I REALLY enjoyed reading this. I think it’s great that you are showing a realistic point of view… nothing pissed me off more than when something is wrong and someone says “Look at the bright side” or “It could be worse..” it’s like at no point did I say “This is the worst thing to ever happen in this history of the world.. I’m just saying this is a crappy thing and I’m dealing with it but right now it’s hard… I’ll be fine but right now it’s bothering me.” We all have a right to be upset or have bad moments as long as we press on.
    It’s amazing that you can find gratitude in your situation… it’s trippy because those really difficult things make us who we are and that’s something to be grateful for.
    I love the quote by Kelly Owens btw! Lol “shit sprinkles.”

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      I love Kelly’s quote too, Dia, it gives me such a good chuckle every time I read it and see the words “sh!t sparkles.” She has a lot of spunk, that one!

      You’re totally right, sometimes you just want/need for someone to hear that you are going through a rough patch, even if you don’t expect them to offer up any solutions. It’s the listening that we seek. So to have someone turn around and say “Oh, it could be worse,” or “Look at the bright side,” just makes one want to flip them the bird, lol! Time and place, time and place! Xx

  31. Cara says:

    Great post! Love your outlook on life, everyone needs to have this! Wishing you all the best in 2016!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Same to you for 2016, Cara! Thank you for your kind comments.

  32. Christy D. says:

    I was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. It’s been interesting realizing how much life is changing. That I’ll be on medication for the rest of my life. That other disorders sometimes follow a first autoimmune diagnosis. But, it doesn’t steal my zest for living. It just means I need to manage stress and my schedule well.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Hi Christy, lovely to virtually ‘meet’ you. That sucks re: your recent autoimmune condition diagnosis. I don’t say ‘sucks’ to be negative, just stating the obvious, because it’s certainly not all sunshine and roses in the beginning; we’re not going to straight away “sh!t sparkles and ride unicorns in rush hour,” as Kelly so eloquently puts it. No one wants to get a bad health diagnosis. No one wants to be sick.

      On the plus side, it certainly sounds from your tone and words that you are taking things in your stride as you adjust to the myriad of changes that are no doubt going on in your life right now. I love how you have declared that this isn’t going to steal your zest for living; it’s an attitude that will serve you well in your journey. Hold onto it, kicking and screaming if you have to!

      I wish you well for the future. Look out for sass, sh!tting sparkles and riding unicorns on the horizon 🙂 Xx

  33. Jeff says:

    I love how you can turn something like you’re going through into a positive way of living life. Stay strong and positive!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thanks Jeff! It’s going on 11 years for me now post-diagnosis so I kind of have to embrace this way of thinking. And to laugh lots and laugh often, even if it’s at my own silly self. 🙂

  34. what a beautiful post. I don’t have a chronic illness, but I can related on some many measures.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you so much Angela. Whilst I have come at this article from a chronic illness angle, you are absolutely right in that the content is still relatable to everyone and anyone. We all get hit with challenges and what I term the ‘crap-quota card’ at some point(s) in our lives. No one is immune. I’m glad you enjoyed the read. Xx

  35. Jenny says:

    Great perspective, thanks for sharing!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you and my pleasure, Jenny.

  36. Lisa Martens says:

    Great article. You have an amazing outlook on life. I have family members who deal with chronic illness and I’ve had to watch them learn to deal with it. I am always so impressed with what they tackle despite the pain. I have much respect for them.

  37. KD says:

    If this isn’t inspirational I don’t know what is! I especially love the line, “Survival depends on learning to build something new from a changed reality.” I never thought about it like that. This is a beautiful post and I hope everyone gets a chance to read it. This is true optimism. I like that.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you KD for your kind and thoughtful response. I really believe that survival does depend on being able to build something new from a changed reality. The alternative really doesn’t appeal to me – to become stuck on what I had, what was, to keep reliving it over and over and over again, which isn’t healthy for the mind and body over an extended period of time. Change is inevitable in all our lives; sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but it’s how we react to the change that will either make us or break us. Thanks for reading!

  38. Great attitude! I can so relate. At forty, I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. Ironically, I had had it my whole life, but there was something about the diagnosis that both terrified me and liberated me. A diagnosis like that changes your perception of the world, who you are, and your place in it. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you for sharing your story with me Tricia. I can only imagine the relief you must have felt at finally having a diagnosis after all those years, when the pieces of the puzzle started to click into place. No wonder you felt both equal parts terrified and liberated, I’m sure I would feel the same! I wish you well for the future, Xx

  39. Rhiannon says:

    It’s so important to remain positive when you go through such a life challenging time in your life. Chronic illnesses, especially invisible ones will make you cry with frustration, be overwhelming angry by what’s been taken from us that if we don’t look at things from a different perspective, it just eats away at you. Being negative is easy and it swallows you inch by inch, being grateful takes strength and courage and is so much more rewarding than the alternative. Best of luck to you!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      You put that so well Rhiannon. There is definitely a time to grieve, and it is absolutely necessary, but there comes a point when if we want to have any semblance of a life, we need to make a choice to change our mindset, our attitudes, and try to find the positive. Not easy but oh-so-worth it when we get to that point. Best of luck to you, too! Xx

  40. Autumn says:

    I have chronic pain and it was the best thing that happened to me at the time because it made me slow down and stop caring about less important things. I loved this post and it really jumped out at me!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      You also have a beautiful perspective on life, Autumn, to be able to take the view that your chronic pain was the best thing to happen to you at the time. And to honestly believe it, not just say the words. It’s definitely not an easy attitude to adopt when one considers all the challenges, frustrations and yes, even despair, that comes with any chronic health-related problem. Thank you for sharing your story, Xx

  41. Beth says:

    Your spirit and joy are contagious. Thanks for this always important reminder to be grateful for the good things in life!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Awww, thank you Beth! And yes, very important to be grateful for the good things in life. Helps give a bit better perspective (and resilience) for when the sh*t hits the fan! Xx

  42. Rebecca says:

    This was such an inspiring read! As a lady who is fighting several health issues and a couple of chronic illnesses I totally relate to and support what you are saying! It is definitely a journey but I have found finding joy despite the pain and difficulty makes all of the difference!

    Blessings,
    Rebecca 🙂

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you so much Rebecca. And yup, we’ve gotta keep up the good fight, it’s all part of the journey and survival really does depend on learning to build something new (and good) from a changed reality. Best of luck to you Xx

  43. Kristin Cook says:

    When I am going through something tough, I am grateful that God is always with me and continually giving me mercy. He didn’t promise me a pain-free life, but He promised to help me through and always love me. To me, that is the only way to make it through without drowning.
    I am sorry for all the pain you have. But I am so glad that you try to remain positive and grateful! That is wonderful!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      What you say is very true Kristin – no one has ever been promised a pain-free life, it’s simply not possible. As I highlighted in a recent piece I had published on Tiny Buddha “We all go through challenges and adversity in our lives. No one is ever singled out. We don’t always know why some things happen, they just do…It’s how we respond that builds character and resilience; what makes us stronger.” http://tinybuddha.com/blog/the-upside-of-adversity-6-lessons-from-thriving-with-chronic-illness/

  44. Michaela says:

    You have such an optimistic outlook!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger – right?! 🙂

  45. Dana says:

    I love your positive attitude – that is the best way to go! I have chronic lower back pain, and instead of grumbling about it and letting it ruin my mood (and days), I look past it.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Sounds like you have the positive attitude thing down pat, Dana, which undoubtedly helps you to manage the impact of chronic back pain on your life and still shine brite 🙂

  46. Neely says:

    I have POTS/EDS and honestly I think having a chronic illness has made me a better person

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      It certainly gives us a different lens to view the world, and ourselves, doesn’t it Neely? POTS/ED certainly has the potential to knock you around a lot, I hope you are doing ok at this moment. Xx

  47. Joanna says:

    Lovely post. I am colourblind. I have never been able to tell the difference between colours, but have found ways around it! I ask a lot and when something is colour coordinated I ask even more!! I cannot read signs that are red on black, I cannot follow the red line, I don’t even know what colour my top is if I don’t label it! Any chronic disease is hard, I think they make us stronger and different!
    Stay strong, stay positive!
    xx Joanna

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you for sharing some of your story here, Joanna. I love the fact that you have found creative ways around the challenges that being colourblind would present – labelling your tops gave me a happy chuckle, you go girl! Whatever works, hey?!

      One of my all-time favourite quotes is “You were born into this life because you are strong enough to live it.” (Anonymous). Which I think is so, so true!

      Bree xx

  48. Susan says:

    Your attitude is truly inspiring. I am grateful that I found your blog today when I needed it the most.

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you so much Susan and I’m glad finding my blog has been helpful for you. Lots more to read so please stick around 🙂 Xx

  49. Hil says:

    Being chronically sick or in pain DOES suck so bad! It’s not fair at all, but you are right how you look at it and your attitude about it is so important. I would *love* to be a 24/7 Pollyanna though!!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      If it were a genuine 24/7 Pollyanna then I would be down with that, Hil, but somehow I just don’t think that’s possible 🙂 Bree xx

  50. Abby says:

    I love your perspective! It’s similar to what a lot of disabled or chronically ill people say: it isn’t that they enjoy their illness, but they appreciate the lens through which it lets them see life. Yay for looking on the bright side!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      I think you have summed it up perfectly with your comments Abby, in that I can appreciate the lens through which my illness has enabled me to see life. Because the actual symptoms – pain, fatigue, etc – well, they are still stinky! Xx

  51. Colleen says:

    This was fascinating to read and I think it shows the strength of your character. I think you are being candid and accepting reality for what it is for you now which is so strong. You are neither cynical or falsely happy, you are realistically describing this incredible journey of getting to a place where you accept your life and health and I am just inspired and amazed! What a journey! I wish you so much joy in this coming year! May your gratitude book overflow with wonderful moments!!

    1. Bree Hogan says:

      Thank you so much Colleen, what a beautiful note to greet me in my website dashboard this morning. My gratitude book is definitely overflowing with wonderful moments and memories, I love looking back through it. I’ve cracked open a new one for 2016 now! I also wish you much joy and happiness in the coming year. Xx

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