Founder of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and Rest Ministries
When it comes to making the daily decisions about our illness it’s easy to rely on instinct. Occasionally, however, our instinctive decisions about dealing with our disease can lead us astray. What we once believed about our body and its limitations when we were healthy may no longer apply, and yet we can still have those same clichés running through our thoughts, trying to dictate how we live.
Here are four lies we can easily listen to that can cause us grief or even physical harm.
1. Your illness is a sign that you somehow messed up
There are great debates over how much control we have over our bodies. Those who are diligent about what food goes into their bodies and how much they exercise will often claim they have prevented disease. Unfortunately, although we can lessen disease by eating healthy, avoiding smoking, and other good health habits, these choices do not guarantee that we are exempt from a chronic illness.
Some people who have made wise health choices for decades, have had their bodies eventually betray them, succumbing to cancers or other health conditions. And although one can delay a disease they may be genetically predisposed it, it cannot always be avoided.
Don’t beat yourself up trying to figure out what you did wrong to cause your illness. Guilt, blame and shame are not going to help you. Instead, spend your time understanding more about your unique illness and how it affects your body.
What is the common treatment? What symptoms can you expect? How have people responded to treatment? Are there controversies about treatments? Then choose to become the healthiest person you can be — with your disease.
2. If you rest you are letting the illness win
In the United States, the afternoon nap gets little respect. Many countries have rest times built into their work days, from Latin siestas to afternoon naps in Japan’s workforce, with “nap salon” popping up in major cities. But in our culture the shift in attitude has been slow, despite the fact that Google offers employees “napping pods” to take a quick rest. Rest has traditionally been considered a sign that you are lazy and unmotivated.