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Having a chronic illness gives Thanksgiving new meaning. It changes what it is you have to be thankful for. Those of us that suffer with constant chronic pain may find ourselves being thankful for still being able to dress ourselves or even just to walk. Those of us with daily fever might feel thankful for the hours of the day when the fever retreats. Most of us would be giddy with delight over a good night’s sleep. We can and should be thankful for the small victories that we experience every day, if we choose see them as victories.
Being thankful while living with an autoimmune disease (or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome CFS/CFS or fibromyalgia) is a choice. A choice I have to make many times a day.
Living with a chronic illness can feel very lonely at times. While most people my age are running in droves at to their local stores to do some serious Black Friday shopping, I have to acknowledge that doing that would cause my illness to flare up costing me days and days of penance.
Many of my peers are home prepping the bird as we speak, but for me, hosting a holiday event such as Thanksgiving is merely a pipe dream. The cleaning and cooking and baking that would go into such a holiday would zap me of all energy clear through to Christmas!
My reality is different than the dream, however, there is much to be thankful for if only I choose to see my illness from a different perspective.
I am thankful that my illness has shown me how to not be perfect and how to love myself even still. Without my illness I would have likely spent the last ten years attempting to be perfect instead of striving to be happy.
I am thankful that my illness has taught me how to ask for help. In the past, I was always the person others would come to for help. I remember trying to be everything to everyone, afraid to let anyone down. With an autoimmune disease I have been forced to not only accept my limitations, but to ask for help. It only recently occurred to me that when you give someone the chance to help you, it makes them feel great for being there for you! That feeling that propelled me to help everyone else kept me from allowing my loved ones from getting that feeling by helping me. Now I am able to ask for help and I truly appreciate whatever help I do get.
I am also thankful for all of the amazing people I have met on my journey! Each person that has contacted me through the Support Group has changed me in some way; even if that person never made it to a meeting, I still connected with that person on the phone. There is nothing quite like making a connection with another human being who is going through the same trials as you are.
Being grateful is not only a choice, it is an attitude. A good attitude is more important than you might think. And it precedes you wherever you go. People can sense your mood and your attitude from the energy you give off. And the energy you give is the energy you receive.
Let's all choose to be positive, even it is a choice to be made 100 times per day!