Whether you waited up until midnight or not this past New Year's Eve (we’re assuming many spoonies chose the latter), 2016 has still ended and, at the stroke of twelve, 2017 was officially ushered in. At this time of year, New Year’s resolutions are made with the focus on self improvement in the coming months. And while resolutions can be frustrating and disillusioning for most, those who live with a chronic illness can find it especially difficult.
Spoonies have enough health issues to face without putting added pressure on themselves. Making- and possibly failing to keep- these pledges can just lead to more disappointment, anger, and guilt. And making well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions, even if they are kept, won’t bring a cure. No amount of healthy eating or exercise will fully heal the body of a chronic illness warrior. So then you may be asking, what’s the point? We at Suffering the Silence think there is another way to look at this holiday tradition, a higher purpose they hold, particularly for Spoonies like us. Because resolutions are also a reminder to take the opportunity for rebirth in the new year. There is something symbolic in the changing date that reminds you to recommit to focusing on your health. While no kept resolution has the power to fully restore our health, taking the best possible care of our bodies and minds offers us a head start.
This year, we asked the STS community to share their New Year’s resolutions with us, in the hopes that we can band together in our dedication to beginning 2017 with a fresh dedication to the needs of our minds and bodies. Here are a few of our fellow spoonies’ resolutions for the new year:
• “To take care of and not overcommit myself” • “To learn to let go of the guilt surrounding my chronic illness”
• “To focus on the things I can do instead of the things I can’t”
• “My new year’s resolution is to not accept this is the way it is and to try to get a cure for my pain”
• “My goal is to develop new strategies for practicing personal meditation to help me find gratitude in some way every day”
• “To treat each day like a fresh start. To wake up without expectations and meet my body where it’s at.”
• “I want to come to peace with the fact that I can’t do everything on my own and ask for help when I need it”
• “To listen to my body”
The STS team has made their own commitments, too:
• Allie: “I need to take time to allow myself to slow down. I'm learning that in the months that I feel healthy, I sprint until I hit a wall. I value my relative health so much, and in 2017 I want to make sure I build time into my schedule to protect it.”
• Erica: "I want 2017 to be a year in which I continue to listen to my body, trust myself and my instincts. I want to take the best care of myself, leaving more time for dedicated relaxation, where I truly let my body rest.”
• Amanda: “My resolution is simple: To work more consciously and committedly to create active art.”
• Leah: “To be kinder to myself. Ever since I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, I’ve been very hard on myself when I can’t do things I used to or can’t do them to the extent I did before becoming sick. I want to focus on celebrating the things I can do and on building myself up, instead of putting myself down.”
• Ariel: “1) To not let the fear of a flare up constantly hold me back. I have so many aspirations and goals I want to achieve, and I so often have to remind myself that it took placing myself out of my comfort zone in order to come as far as I have. I want to be braver with my body. 2) I want to stress less! I struggle with anxiety and it's not as easy as "just don't worry about it!" I want to find healthy ways of coping, however, and I want my mind to feel better (as well as my body).
If you want to join us in crafting own chronic illness friendly New Year’s resolutions, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Despite what society might have you think, resolutions don’t have to be centered around your appearance. Your worth, particularly as a spoonie, is not dictated by your looks, your weight, or any other outward construct.
2. Resolutions are goals, not a constant lifestyle you must abide by.
3. Resolutions are commitments made for and to yourself, no one else. You don’t have to share or defend them.
4. Consider what being healthy (particularly in connection with your chronic illness) means.
5. Resolutions are a guiding line, not a finish line. We’d love for you to share your resolutions with us, using #spoonieresolutions!
When you are fighting a chronic illness, the days can feel long, but the years are far too short. This quandary is how we now find ourselves at the beginning of another year, when we feel like the previous one had only just begun. And as we sit here, we turn our attention to the fresh slate we have been gifted. No one knows what the next year will bring. But to enjoy the new opportunities, we must first embrace the possibilities
As Spoonies ourselves, we understand how frustrating typical New Year’s greetings can be. We won’t be wishing you good health or overwhelming happiness because we know how difficult those commodities can be to come by when chronically ill.
But we at STS will wish you the fresh hope, renewal, and perspective a new year can bring and are looking forward to all the exciting possibilities this next year holds.
Come on, 2017. Show us what you’ve got.