Every Thursday during the month of September I have asked the many amazing people I have met online – through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – to be part of a slightly different format to my ongoing Thought Provoking Thursday project.

Rather than posing a thought-provoking question, like in previous weeks, I have been asking people to complete sentences regarding a range of health issues.

We have together completed the sentences:

Mental health is…

Suicide is…

Physical health is…

If you missed them you can click on the above links to see our online communities responses and a video I produced for each week.

Ending our months reflections with the sentence completion task:

Chronic illness is…

Encapsulating the experience of living with a chronic illness has illustrated the true strength of humanity and my fellow spoonies openness, vulnerability, courage and all-round badassery.

We can all read scientific definitions, Google ‘what is…’, but it is by honouring and giving space for the depth of human experience that we can learn from one another and develop a more compassionate world.

So please, let’s all take the time to continue to give a voice to that which is often unspoken or unheard.

A VIDEO OF OUR ONLINE COMMUNITY REFLECTION:

Chronic illness is…

 

A list of everybody’s responses:

Chronic illness is what I have, not who I am.

Chronic illness is an everyday uphill struggle. 

Chronic illness is invisibility and silence. Solitary confinement with no parole.

Chronic illness is often invisible, which means people forget about or don’t understand a reaction or a choice to do not do something that is deemed ‘ normal or everyday’. It’s the small things which are often taken for granted which can hurt the most.

Chronic illness is challenging, especially when you have travelled around the world for work and hope to see dear friends then have to cancel plans so you can rest. It can also be full of blessings that lead you to make changes to your life that are wonderful.

Chronic illness is simultaneously having to live with the knowledge that some do not believe you could possibly be as impacted by physical difficulties as you say you are and others can’t see you for how capable you are.

Chronic illness is the physical, psychological, and emotional process of thinking you know the state of yourself, finding you may be mistaken, and then learning and evolving to meet a new norm–over and over again.

Chronic illness is debilitating, but open your MIND up instead, there is so much in our minds to explore. I have severe arthritis etc and enjoying learning lots of new things which I read about and watch documentaries. 

Chronic illness is lonely, and requires the development of great self-faith, courage, and humility. It’s another reminder that we need kinder, more human communities than we often currently have. 

Chronic illness is discovering just how resourceful and strong you really are as you battle a world full of limitations.

Chronic illness is coming to a level of acceptance I’m content with, even if I could go a bit further to take things in my stride. Even so, the shadow of a former life still lingers.

Chronic illness is my friend, my teacher, my ally when I am able to listen compassionately to its voice, come up close and hear what it is trying to tell me, my body sometimes shouting and screaming for attention. My sworn enemy when I fight against it, avoid it, get into endless frustrating battles and become paralysed with pain and fear.

Chronic illness is a double-edged sword. It can be very difficult at times being so misunderstood, being not believed, & being referred to lazy, unmotivated, or all this being in our heads! Those who have not embodied this first-hand, will not often grasp the concept that mind over matter does not work when our bodies are not responsive in the ways they were designed to be. That is not a failure of faith on our part! It’s no different than a malfunctioning computer hardware. If your hard drive is broken, trying to install new software won’t help! On the flip side, it has forced me to take down time & engage in daily self care I would have never done before. This last year of being mostly in bed, has taught me new ways to use what is still working well, my mind! It has greatly changed my perception, increased my compassion, & taught me to be my own best friend in times of loneliness. It’s taught me to be thankful for the little things, & has brought a tremendous sense of freedom from so many of the unimportant things in life we tend to stress over. It has also given me the needed down time to grieve & heal many emotional wounds. I have a far different view of what’s important. Even though I am slowly improving, I pray I never lose sight of these realities if I’m able to ever return to a more typical schedule. If I’m not ever able to return to it, I’m keenly aware my life is no less valuable. In fact, these experiences have likely made me more valuable than ever! 

 

Connect

 

Thank you to every single person who has engaged in my September sentence completion month.

As a clinical psychologist I see it is my duty not only to help people on an individual level through my therapeutic work, but also to do what I can when I can to help us make valuable shifts in our collective consciousness. Encouraging a reflection of important systemic issues that influence all of us and those we love at an individual level.

As a human being, who is perfectly imperfect, I am passionate about helping us develop a more compassionate society, where we can be brought together by our common humanity rather than separated by our differences.

Let’s keep talking. Let’s keep listening. Let’s keep opening our minds and our hearts to one another and to ourselves.

I’ll be taking a break from Thought Provoking Thursday’s for the month of October, but I have some exciting plans for how to take this project further, so watch this space!

Best wishes and compassionate thoughts

Dr. Kristine Abercrombie / Krissy

Chartered Clinical Psychologist / Human Being

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