How To Be Sick

Before I got sick, my life was perfect, absolutely perfect. I was pursuing not one, but two undergraduate degrees, I was working, I saw my friends and I was volunteering – and then I got sick.

I couldn’t cope. I’m not ashamed to say that. I felt useless, I felt like a burden, I felt like no one would ever love me, I just felt terrible.

Everyone was living, and I’m just at home or the doctor’s office watching life go by.

I couldn’t accept my situation – how could I? This was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I still struggle with it, but Toni Bernhard’s books have made it much easier.

She was a law professor… and then she got sick. No one could figure out why – she could not work, she could not go see her grand children and she just could not get better. That sounds hopeless, right?

She had the amazing ability to begin to accept her situation. Of course we all want a cure, but that could take time, that could never come – what can we do to cope with our here and now? We can accept it.

Acceptance is not giving up. Acceptance is restraining resistance, it’s finding joy and happiness in life, despite despair.

She had this quote in her first book, How To Be Sick, “10,000 sorrows, 10,000 joys.” What does that mean? It means that bad things will happen to you, like getting sick, but it also means that happiness is possible within the chaos of the world too.

Toni Bernhard is the reason I began to cope with my situation. Yes, I am sick, but that doesn’t define me. Yes, I am home, but doesn’t everyone wish that they could stay home and do the things they love? Sure, this isn’t the way I wanted it to happen, but I can see the light. I have all of the time in the world to complete my reading bucket list. I have all of this time to learn. I have all of this time to try to create awareness and help others.

No, I’m not out partying on a Saturday night, and no, I’m not currently pursuing any degree. I could sit here and sulk about it, which I sometimes do, but I can also appreciate that I have much more time to spend with my family.

You are okay where you are. Illness is not a living death sentence, you can still be alive and find joy. I highly recommend Toni Bernhard’s How To Sick and her follow up, How To Wake Up because it helped me see the light in my illness.

I’m not saying that there won’t be dark days where you don’t sit there wondering how the hell your life got here, but I am saying there is goodness in there too.

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