Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always been pretty good at being- or at least acting optimistic and cheery. Before I truly found God, however, this optimism was often a façade; I acted optimistic in order to feel better about my life and hide my true feelings from the world. Once I made my relationship with God a priority, I have truly felt hopeful and optimistic, regardless of what life throws at me. Now that I’ve shared a little background info, let’s move on to the nitty-gritty. How does optimism and hope impact my life?
If you’ve been around a while, you may know that I have a chronic illness known as Dysautonomia, with a subset of the illness called POTS- or Postular Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Basically what this means is that my heart rate escalates quite high just from slight changes in posture- especially the switch from sitting to standing. Because this is a syndrome, it comes with a very long list of symptoms that I’m not going to list here due to the fact that A) I’m not an expert in the topic, just a patient, and B) the point of this post is not to solely inform you about one of many invisible illnesses. No, this is much deeper than that.
You see, there are many things that occur to me chronically- I live with pain, chronic fatigue & exhaustion, temperature intolerance and extreme discomfort everyday- but my chronic symptoms far surpass just the physiological ones. I have battled with depression and anxiety, I often still do. I, like many of you, have been known to be very insecure and have low self-esteem. It happens to all of us, but our feelings about ourselves don’t define who we are.
Sure, my life doesn’t look like a lot of people I know, but imagine how boring life would be if it did! To be completely honest, the past two weeks have been extremely rough for me, and I got stuck in a dark, low place I hadn’t been in for a while. I was still optimistic and was clinging on to the little hopefulness I still felt to get me through. One of the most instrumental things pulling me through this slump was a small, emotion-filled worship and prayer service on my campus last week. My spirit was unsettled and fighting off the lies of Satan and his cronies, but the presence of the Holy Spirit overtook the darkness and freed my soul from the gripping evil presence that was trying to destroy it. Many tears were shed, but I began to feel calm again. At peace, rather than in pieces.
Now, this is not to say that I still didn’t struggle this past week, but that I survived the struggle. College is hard. Having a chronic illness is hard. Life is hard. But difficulty is not impossibility. I cant explain to y’all how close I was to giving up and tossing my dreams and future plans aside- but I couldn’t. You see, the thing is, I never give up. Its like an impossible thing for me to do- believe me, I’ve tried. Deep in my soul, no matter how tough life gets, I still have the tendency to remain hopeful and optimistic. It’s in my DNA. God gave me an optimistic spirit and I believe that is why I am where I am today. No matter what obstacles come my way, I am able to search for alternate routes to get where I need to be. The optimism deep inside me overcomes all the negativity- and this optimism came from God. The further I separate myself from Him, the more negativity and self loathing fills my brain.
Dysautonomia & POTS make everyday a battle- and some days are worse than others. As much as it has affected my life negatively, this illness has also been one of my greatest blessings. By having dysautonomia, I have found a passion for research, reaching out to others with the various forms of autonomic dysfunction, chronic illness and autoimmune diseases, and being an advocate for increasing public knowledge of invisible illnesses. I believe I will get better, and that in the future we will learn more about it and find more effective treatments, quicker diagnostic timelines and eventually a cure!
Now, 6 years ago, I would’ve thought that was an impossible pipe-dream, felt extreme self-pity and accepted my fate as someone who was going to be sick forever. This illness has helped me grow and turn my test into a testimony. Any time something goes wrong in my life or others’, I now encourage them to be hopeful and insist that things will get better. Some people may think I’m naïve for being so hopeful, but God has given me all the hope I need. I may not get better during my time on this Earth, but when I join my Father in heaven, all pain, sorrow and struggle will end- and I think that’s wonderful to look forward to.
Yes, I have a chronic, not-yet-curable health condition. Yes, I have had to make a lot of lifestyle changes and give up things I love in order to cope with it, but the only direction I have to go is up. You could say I’m chronically ill, but I say I’m chronically optimistic. 🙂
Til next time,