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When I started off last year, my one new year’s resolution was to choose positivity. I wanted to do things like be more present, come to terms with my illness, figure out how to live healthier, and generally start seeing my life’s glass more full. But when I think about it, what I was really trying to do by making this resolution was find happiness, because it wasn’t until this year that I really realized: I wasn’t happy.
There were lots of things in my life I was (and am) happy about. My husband and how great he is. This awesome opportunity to live in Boston. My family who loves me. The fact that I am educated and live comfortably and have food and clean water and am (reasonably) healthy. But even with all this, I wasn’t happy. Why? How is it that I could have all the trappings of happiness but still feel so…burdened?
There’s something about having a chronic illness that can so easily suck the joy right out of you. Especially the kind of chronic illness that you have to monitor every waking moment of your life. The kind of chronic illness where you can do everything right and still fail to meet your health goals. The kind of chronic illness that sneaks up on you and tries to literally take your life while you’re sleeping (true story–but for another time). It circles you in a cloud of darkness that, after a while, you forget is there. Or maybe you never realized it was there in the first place because you’ve been in the eye of the storm the whole time. That cloud, that storm–be it made of something as crippling as anxiety or innocuous as listlessness–can so easily become your new normal if you let it.
That cloud was gathering over me Eeyore-style for six years, and it took me that long to look up and see it. I saw it back last February, and so I did something about it. Over the course of a year, I refocused the way I looked at life, at my disease, at my health. I started working out. I started eating better. I saw a psychologist at the Joslin Clinic who helped me give up my quest for diabetes perfection and instead focus on what I was already doing right. I monitored my blood sugar like never before, learned just about every nuance of how food affects my body, and brought my A1c down from 7.2 in February of 2014 to 5.8, a near-normal range I never thought possible a year ago. And eventually I found myself feeling a lot better. But something was still missing.
The day after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes seven years ago, my dad came into my room and sat with me. And he told me that he was sorry this happened to me, that it would be hard but we would work through it, and that I would be okay. And he told me that even in the midst of this terrible thing, there was good that could come out of it. That I had a unique opportunity to put my burdens before God and experience His power in a way I may otherwise not have needed to. That if this disease is what brings me closer to Him, the difficulty before me will all be worth it.
So that’s my next step, dear readers, on this road to happiness. Laying down my burdens. Perhaps more importantly, laying down my fears. My worries. My sometimes irrational anxieties that curl up in the pit of my stomach and grow there until I’m sick with worry. I’ve spent over a year now trying to take charge, to overcome, to work harder, to DO something to make things better by myself, and all I really have to show for it is exhaustion. And now, what I think I really needed to do all along is just let go. To fall on my knees and admit that I just can’t do this by myself.
To have the Faith necessary to see what will happen next.
Have you found yourself struggling to let go of fear or anxiety? What helped you move forward? Positive comments only, please! All negativity will be deleted :)