Diversability

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Guest Post: Setting Goals with Chronic Illness

By: Dominique Viel


With the first portion of 2019 ending, it's easy to feel like time is passing by quickly, and we can wonder if any of those goals or resolutions we set at the start of the year are coming together. That is an even larger concern when you are living with a chronic illness because there can already be some self-doubt of not achieving goals. As someone living with chronic illnesses, I understand how we put this pressure on ourselves because there's an immediate fear our health setbacks will be the demise of our goals. After a sports injury igniting my chronic illnesses a decade ago, I worked hard to find the balance of striving for success while maintaining my 'new normal' of health. But as the years continued, I felt the 'what ifs' creep into my mind. That worry if I would be more successful or happier if I never got injured and had the subsequent health constraints that are sometimes part of my day-to-day. But something quickly happened that turned my mentality on its head.  

 

I discovered a young adult chronic illness advocate YouTuber, someone that would become a friend and future philanthropy supporter of my nonprofit, InvisiYouth Charity. In one of their advocacy videos, they mentioned they only started to feel a sense of serenity and accomplishment in their life when they took the negative stigmas of "chronic illness life" out of their mindset. After watching, it was as if a light bulb went off and that guilt I put onto myself seemed so obsolete. 

Why was I judging myself for things I couldn't control? Why was I automatically assuming if I had to adjust my goals for life, I was ruining my dreams? Why did I look at my dreams as out-of-reach because they weren't going to be on the same timeline as my "healthy/able-bodied" friends?

This is the truest fact for life with chronic illness/disability, and has become one of the major pillars of InvisiYouth's mission: a life with chronic illness and a life of success/happiness ARE NOT mutually exclusive. I can live every day with my chronic illnesses AND still be happy and successful. My life goals aren't lesser than just because my health isn't the stereotypical norm. There is a framework in the media and society that if you have a chronic illness or disability, people must feel either sympathy for your struggles or inspiration by your daily act of just living.  It is that negative connotation that causes us as the chronic illness/disability community to view our goals as harder to reach. And while yes, there are certain things I cannot do any longer because of my health, that doesn't mean I cannot adapt, take a few more steps and add a bit more time to still achieve my dreams. 

One of the best life lessons I've learned is somewhat of an analogy to cooking. Life shouldn't be a shot in the pan, it should be a slow burn, allowing all the flavors of our goals to marinate.  We don't need instant gratification, or a microwave fast-track to achievement. We don't need to scale our wins in life based on what others can achieve. Let your goals and dreams take their time to reach their full potential, and when you get out of that negative mindset and become proud of your life WITH chronic illness/disability instead of being angered by it, that is when serenity can be found.

So now, as I look at all my goals--personally, professionally, and with InvisiYouth Charity--for the rest of 2019 and beyond, I won't look at the unmet goals with sadness or worry, but instead, I will let it fuel my fire to figure out new ways to adapt my steps and continue moving forward.


Hello! My name is Dominique Viel and I am the founder and Executive Director of  InvisiYouth Charity , and the host of our video podcast series,  InvisiYouth Chat Sessions ! InvisiYouth Charity is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps teens and young adults around the world with various chronic illnesses and disabilities gain the right lifestyle tools, leadership programs, empowerment and fun events to learn how to thrive in life with health struggles. My life leading up to InvisiYouth's launch four years ago was what inspired me to build InvisiYouth. It came after my own experiences as an injured teen competitive tennis player that resulted in my diagnosis of a neurovascular chronic illness and subsequent connective tissue disorder. It is this personal passion that allowed me to use my years of experience as a patient advocate and guest speaker in hospitals like the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, published as a grant stakeholder for research such as  Taylor and Francis  along with developing this organization. Creating InvisiYouth was because I felt the overwhelming need to be supported in my 'non-medical' life while growing as a teen/young adult. With no guidebook on how to balance both, I wanted to create something that I wished I had as a resource and provided an inclusive non-illness specific approach to the full life of living with chronic illnesses or disability. With InvisiYouth Charity, or with our  video podcast , the goal is that no young adult with illness or disability has to "wait for a cure" or "wait till they're healthy" in order to live their life, but can find tools and activism that will allow them to be fulfilled, well-rounded and hardworking young adults.

Hello! My name is Dominique Viel and I am the founder and Executive Director of InvisiYouth Charity, and the host of our video podcast series, InvisiYouth Chat Sessions! InvisiYouth Charity is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps teens and young adults around the world with various chronic illnesses and disabilities gain the right lifestyle tools, leadership programs, empowerment and fun events to learn how to thrive in life with health struggles. My life leading up to InvisiYouth's launch four years ago was what inspired me to build InvisiYouth. It came after my own experiences as an injured teen competitive tennis player that resulted in my diagnosis of a neurovascular chronic illness and subsequent connective tissue disorder. It is this personal passion that allowed me to use my years of experience as a patient advocate and guest speaker in hospitals like the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, published as a grant stakeholder for research such as Taylor and Francis along with developing this organization. Creating InvisiYouth was because I felt the overwhelming need to be supported in my 'non-medical' life while growing as a teen/young adult. With no guidebook on how to balance both, I wanted to create something that I wished I had as a resource and provided an inclusive non-illness specific approach to the full life of living with chronic illnesses or disability. With InvisiYouth Charity, or with our video podcast, the goal is that no young adult with illness or disability has to "wait for a cure" or "wait till they're healthy" in order to live their life, but can find tools and activism that will allow them to be fulfilled, well-rounded and hardworking young adults.