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Rebuilding Your Identity with Chronic Illness

Updated: May 30, 2022

Do you feel that your identity has been lost now that you have a chronic illness or new, unexplained symptoms?

You’re not alone. Many with chronic illnesses feel the same way.

Perhaps you used to think of yourself as the social butterfly, but now you haven't socialized with people in months. Perhaps you were the star at your office, but now you feel like you can barely work half a day.

This can feel incredibly alienating and downright confusing to deal with. You feel lost and it affects your relationships with yourself and others. Perhaps you feel that the only identity you now have is as the “POTSie” or as a “COVID Long-Hauler”.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You are not your illness. Of course, your illness has a huge impact on your life, but you are much more than your illness.

You are a unique individual with hopes and dreams and you have the power to change your story. After all, that is all it is, a story. So how do you begin rewriting your story and your narrative?

Here is a powerful exercise to get you thinking about this:

  1. What matters to you, deep down in your heart? What do you want to do with your time on this planet? What kind of person do you want to be? What personal qualities or strengths do you want to develop to become this person?

  2. What actions are you currently taking that will improve your life in the long run? What do you want to start or do more of? What are you working on developing? How consistently are you living by these values?

Spend some time reflecting and writing out answers to these questions.

In my work with clients, we spend quite a bit of time, in the beginning, clarifying these values and setting up a vision of your life.

Becoming aware of your core values and your mission in life makes it easier to build a new life that is centered around these core values, even if that life is unpredictable due to chronic illness.

Once we set up a vision, we can then begin taking actionable steps to help reach those goals.

If you’re feeling stuck with imagining a new post-illness life and are interested in a coaching session, click here.


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