5 Ways To Positively Leverage Chronic Illnesses

5 Ways To Positively Leverage Chronic Illnesses

What if you could turn your chronic illnesses into your next best strength?

443
views

Kung Fu Panda's Po is one of my favorite movie characters. In one of my favorite animated scenes of all time - he attains "inner peace" to redirect a firey ball of liquid into enemy territory to save the day. In this scene, he quintessentially demonstrates how obstacles can be turned into opportunities.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 6 in 10 Americans suffer from at least one chronic diseases (Note: chronic illnesses are defined by the CDC as the "personal experience of living with the affliction that often accompanies chronic disease," thus the two terms are linked, however, the focus of this article is on the related experience and not the disease.)

According to Merriam Webster, "chronic" is something that is "continuing or occurring again and again for a long time," and "illness" is "an unhealthy condition of body or mind." Used together "chronic illness" is any recurrent or ongoing unhealthy condition of the body or mind. With this definition in mind, chronic illnesses may actually encompass more than 6 in 10 Americans, given that the CDC definition is limited to conditions of the body.

The stresses faced by individuals with chronic illnesses include financial burdens, emotional tolls, temporal constraints and a lower quality of life to name a few. The stresses presented by chronic illnesses - approached with a determined, opportunistic, and problem-solving mentality - can translate to innumerable opportunities to positively impact communities.

Here are 6 ways by which you can leverage your chronic illness to effect positivity.

1. Use your illness to advocate for others

When it comes to chronic illnesses, patients often hear the phrase "you are your own best advocate," and while that is true, patients with chronic illnesses have shared experiences that they can use to bring about change for all. Use your experiences and your voice to effect change where change is needed - whether that be procedural, financial or political.

2. Use your illness to care for others

While a career in medicine or healthcare may not be the primary interest of patients with chronic conditions, having been "on the other side" allows care providers to better empathize with patients.

3. Use your illness to give you new perspectives

We each have a human perspective composed of overlapping spheres of our identity. Often, after a harrowing medical experience - with the right mindset and circumstances - individuals come out with a unique take on life - often one founded in meaning or relationships.

4. Use your illness to open up career opportunities

Despite more than 6 in 10 Americans having chronic illnesses, the majority of this afflicted population are older (50+); as a result, individuals with chronic illnesses at early stages in their education or careers can use chronic illnesses to help them identify programs or jobs that aim to recruit individuals with disabilities with the purpose of removing obstacles to education or advancement that students with disabilities might face.

5. Use your illness to create a community

While it may seem at times as though the journey with chronic illnesses is lonely, there is a tremendous benefit in joining together. Resources get shared, connections get made and conversations get had, all of which help contribute to a positive, collaborative community.

Society chooses to view chronic Illness as inherently disadvantageous, and while the battle with chronic illnesses may be laden with obstacles, the experiences and narratives of patients with chronic illnesses can be positively leveraged to give individuals unique ways to change the world.

Popular Right Now

20 Things That Happen When A Jersey Person Leaves Jersey

Hoagies, pizza, and bagels will never be the same.
336178
views

Ah, the "armpit of America." Whether you traveled far for college, moved away, or even just went on vacation--you know these things to be true about leaving New Jersey. It turns out to be quite a unique state, and leaving will definitely take some lifestyle adjustment.

1. You discover an accent you swore you never had.

Suddenly, people start calling you out on your pronunciation of "cawfee," "wooter," "begel," and a lot more words you totally thought you were saying normal.

2. Pork Roll will never exist again.

Say goodbye to the beautiful luxury that is pork roll, egg, and cheese on a bagel. In fact, say goodbye to high-quality breakfast sandwiches completely.

3. Dealing with people who use Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, or Dominos as their go-to pizza.

It's weird learning that a lot of the country considers chain pizza to be good pizza. You're forever wishing you could expose them to a real, local, family-style, Italian-owned pizza shop. It's also a super hard adjustment to not have a pizza place on every single block anymore.

4. You probably encounter people that are genuinely friendly.

Sure Jersey contains its fair share of friendly people, but as a whole, it's a huge difference from somewhere like the South. People will honestly, genuinely smile and converse with strangers, and it takes some time to not find it sketchy.

5. People drive way slower and calmer.

You start to become embarrassed by the road rage that has been implanted in your soul. You'll get cut off, flipped off, and honked at way less. In fact, no one even honks, almost ever.

6. You realize that not everyone lives an hour from the shore.

Being able to wake up and text your friends for a quick beach trip on your day off is a thing of the past. No one should have to live this way.

7. You almost speak a different language.

The lingo and slang used in the Jersey area is... unique. It's totally normal until you leave, but then you find yourself receiving funny looks for your jargon and way fewer people relating to your humor. People don't say "jawn" in place of every noun.

8. Hoagies are never the same.

Or as others would say, "subs." There is nothing even close in comparison.

9. Needing Wawa more than life, and there's no one to relate.

When you complain to your friends about missing Wawa, they have no reaction. Their only response is to ask what it is, but there's no rightful explanation that can capture why it is so much better than just some convenient store.

10. You have to learn to pump gas. Eventually.

After a long period of avoidance and reluctance, I can now pump gas. The days of pulling up, rolling down your window, handing over your card and yelling "Fill it up regular please!" are over. When it's raining or cold, you miss this the most.

11. Your average pace of walking is suddenly very above-average.

Your friends will complain that you're walking too fast - when in reality - that was probably your slow-paced walk. Getting stuck behind painfully slow people is your utmost inconvenience.

12. You're asked about "Jersey Shore" way too often.

No, I don't know Snooki. No, our whole state and shore is not actually like that. We have 130 miles of some of the best beach towns in the country.

13. You can't casually mention NYC without people idealizing some magical, beautiful city.

Someone who has never been there has way too perfect an image of it. The place is quite average and dirty. Don't get me wrong, I love a good NYC day trip as much as the next person, but that's all it is to you... a day trip.

14. The lack of swearing is almost uncomfortable.

Jerseyans are known for their foul mouths, and going somewhere that isn't as aggressive as us is quite a culture adjustment.

15. No more jughandles.

No longer do you have to get in the far right lane to make a left turn.

16. You realize that other states are not nearly as extreme about their North/South division.

We literally consider them two different states. There are constant arguments and debates about it. The only thing that North and South Jersey can agree on is that a "Central Jersey" does not exist.

17. Most places also are not in a war over meat.

"Pork roll" or "taylor ham"... The most famous debate amongst North and South Jersey. It's quite a stupid argument, however, considering it is definitely pork roll.

18. You realize you were spoiled with fresh produce.

After all, it's called the "Garden State" for a reason. Your mouth may water just by thinking about some fresh Jersey corn.

19. You'll regret taking advantage of your proximity to everything.

Super short ride to the beach and a super short ride to Philly or NYC. Why was I ever bored?

20. Lastly, you realize how much pride you actually have in the "armpit of America," even if you claimed to dislike it before.

After all, there aren't many places with quite as much pride. You find yourself defending your state at all necessary moments, even if you never thought that would be the case.

Cover Image Credit: Travel Channel

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Arab-American Heritage Month Is Not A Well Known Celebration And I'm Pissed About It

I'm an Arab-American and didn't even know this was a thing... That's sad.

133
views

The month of April is special for a lot of reasons but this one hits home for me. This is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the culture, history and amazing people who have helped bring something to this country. So many Arab-Americans have contributed a lot to society yet they don't get the recognition they deserve for it.

In today's society, the Arab community is always being looked down on and degraded. The lack of understanding from those around makes Arab-Americans feel like outsiders in a place they should be able to call home. The inaccurate images and stereotypes that inhabit the word "Arab" are sickening.

It's time to raise awareness. It's time to look beyond the media's portrayal. It's time to see a neighbor, a teacher, a doctor, a scientist, an artist, an athlete, a parent, a child, but most importantly, a human being, NOT a monster.

Arab-Americans encounter and fight racism every day. As a society, we should be better than that. We should want everyone in this country to feel wanted, needed and appreciated. Together, we should use this month as a time to shine light and celebrate the many Arab-Americans who have, and continue making this country great.

While you read this list of just a few famous Arab-Americans keep in mind how much they want this country to be amazing, just as much as anyone else does.

Dr. Michael DeBakey, invented the heart pump

Dr. Elias Corey, Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 1990 

Dr. Ahmed H. Zewail, Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 1999

Lucie Salhany, first woman to head a tv network 

Ralph Johns, an active participant in the civil rights movement and encouraged the famous Woolworth sit-in 

Ernest Hamwi, invented the ice cream cone

Pvt. Nathan Badeen, died fighting in the Revolutionary War

Leila Ahmed, the first women's studies professor at Harvard Divinity School 

We should recognize and celebrate these achievements. There are so many things you can learn when you step inside another culture instead of turning your back to it. This April, take time to indulge in the Arab-American heritage.

Instead of pushing away the things you don't understand, dive into diversity and expand your knowledge of the unknown. Together we can raise awareness. #IAmArabAmerican

Related Content

Facebook Comments