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Guest Post: Why you shouldn't be afraid of confronting your illness and disability

By: Trevor McDonald

Were you recently diagnosed with a chronic illness? The first thing you should know is that you are not alone. You’re in the company of 133 million Americans who are struggling with and surviving chronic illness every day.

This isn't meant to diminish your struggle. Every struggle and chronic illness is different. Not everyone is going through exactly what you are. Some may have it better. Some may have it worse. But, none of that matters. All that matters to you right now are the limitations of your new life.

Don’t be afraid to face them.

When you face your problems head-on, you can work through the negative feelings you have and come up with a plan of attack. You’ll have good days and bad ones, but through it all, you’ll learn to power through.

Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to confront your illness and disability.

It’s not going anywhere

Unfortunately, your chronic illness isn’t going anywhere any time soon. So, it’s best to face the reality of your life now. It may not be what you pictured, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

Instead of focusing on what you cannot do, think more about the possibilities.

How can you overcome your limitations to live the life you've always wanted? As they say, when there's a will, there's a way. You may have to adjust your path or even your goals, but you can accomplish more than you think.

If your chronic illness has caused lasting damage, get comfortable with it. Unless there’s a major medical breakthrough, that damage is here to stay. So, get to know your limitations, and start pushing them where you can. Set goals for yourself based on what you think you can’t do.

Is running a marathon just out of reach? How about walking a 3k? Your previous goals were based on your body’s capabilities then. These new goals are based on your body’s limitations now.

You’ve always had limits. You’ve always known you couldn’t fly or leap tall buildings in single bound. Now, your limits are just different.

Every good story has a hero

We love to watch stories where heroes overcome great adversity. We love to see the underdog win the fight. Deep down, you’re cheering for those who have the odds stacked against them. And you’ve seen people like this win despite the odds again and again.

Why can’t you be one of those people?

The answer is that you can. When you readjust your mindset and goals, you can accomplish great things. Think of this chronic illness as the adversity that makes your tale worth telling. Would you want to watch a story about someone who had every reason to succeed, and then succeeded?

Boring. Actually, if you think about the best movies, you’ll probably realize that the greater the adversity, the greater the story.

Well, your story has all the makings of a legendary tale. It’s what you do with it from here that will define you. Maybe you research cures such as stem cells or acupuncture to treat your illness. Or, maybe you champion a support group in your area to help empower others.

Take away its power

When the outside world has trouble seeing your chronic illness, it’s tempting to hide it away. If you’re struggling with an invisible illness like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia or lupus, you can almost pretend it’s not there (at times). But, while you’re pretending, you might be dealing with pain or other symptoms that are taking a toll on your mental health.

When you hide from your chronic illness, you're giving it power. As you put on a smile and pretend that everything is fine, you build an illusion that can easily be shattered. It’s like you have a secret that you don’t want anyone to know. And at any moment, you could face extreme symptoms that would send your house of cards crashing down.

But when you face it head on and matter-of-factly, you can take power away from your chronic illness. "Hey, this is what I'm dealing with, and this is how I work around it."

Your chronic illness doesn’t have to be a secret or a source of shame. It truly is what it is. Everyone is dealing with something, and this is your thing. Maybe it’s not your only thing, but we all have to work with what we’ve got.

Life is too short to cower in the face of chronic illness. Confront it with any disability you may have and then go forth and enjoy your life.

Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer who has a passion for writing. He's written a variety of education, travel, health and lifestyle articles for many companies. In his free time, you can find him running with his dog, playing his guitar or outside enjoying any type of fitness activity imaginable.