My Illness Does Not Define Me

“My illness does not define me.” 

I recently came across that statement in The Healing Journal: Guided Prompts and Inspiration for Life with Illness by Emily Suñez.

I’ve read that sentence before — in other books, in other posts. For some reason, though, when I read it this time, I really lingered on that page. I just couldn’t stop thinking of those words and what they mean. Maybe it’s because we’re in this in-between time of reflecting on a year that is rapidly coming to an end while daring to look ahead with hope to the new year. 

“My illness does not define me.” 

It’s true. I don’t think anyone who knows me well would use words like ill or disabled to describe me. And that’s probably because I spend an awful lot of energy trying to act like my illness is not front and center in my life. 

But, I don’t think that’s particularly helpful either. I try to ignore my autoimmune disease, push it aside and out of the way. But it’s still there, demanding attention, and though I don’t often admit it, it’s also demanding compassion.

I’ve never written that before. 

Probably because, in all honesty, that’s the part I’m just starting to become aware of. 

“My illness does not define me.” 

But it is a big part of me.

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