Chronic Illness: Does It Make Me Less of A Woman?

Have you ever asked this question to yourself?

Or maybe its counterparts: “Am I enough?” or “Do I have what it takes?”

“Am I enough?” … “Do I have what it takes?”

Well, who can blame you?

You can’t stay out long without worrying about your unpredictable and embarrassing symptoms that can come on anytime.

You’ve canceled multiple events, projects, trips and dates because of your chronic back pain, migraine, brain fog or other chronic symptoms you cannot identify anymore.

Or, you gave up that promotion because you need to rest and stay home to hopefully (fingers-crossed) recover.

Heck, you can’t even clean up your own room and shower on your bad days!

For most of these things, I have learned to live with and without through the years since I became a spoonie. But there is still this one thing that makes me cringe and keeps me awake at night.

“I have learned to live with and without through the years since I became a spoonie. But there is still this one thing that makes me cringe and keeps me awake at night.”

The Most Popular Pageant Question

“What is the essence of being a woman?”

Let that question hang for a moment there and let’s think about it.

While I haven’t joined any beauty pageant (nor will I ever join one), I’ve felt compelled to answer that question as I got older.

Most especially right after every major flare-up.

And then there are those follow-up questions that I often hear from family and friends that take my self-worth to a nosedive.

“How can you handle the stress of being a wife and a mother if you’re like that?

“Can your body bear and give birth to a child?”

“You get dizzy often. How can you survive the sleepless nights of a new mother plus manage the household?

I love kids and I’d love to have my own.

I long to care for and love a lifetime partner.

I’m not going to lie to you. Motherhood has been one of my dreams as a woman.

I thought it was a big part of my essence.

So, what if…

… my condition won’t allow me to bear and raise a child, do most of the house chores, homeschool, and get a regular job?

Will I be less of a woman? Will I not live up to the true essence of a woman?

Ms. Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen said that, “Just being a woman is God’s gift that all of us must appreciate. The origin of a child is a mother, and is a woman. She shows a man what sharing, caring and loving is all about. That is the essence of a woman.”

That was beautiful.

A woman does not have to be a mother or a wife to share, care, and love.

Granted, Sushmita is not a spoonie like you and me (not that I know of). And I know that it’s hard to think of your real essence when you wake up feeling like you were hit by a truck.

So, I looked for…

3 Real and Badass Women with Chronic Illness

  1. Venus Williams

Williams is one of the world’s best woman tennis players. In 2011, she disclosed that she was diagnosed with the incurable and difficult to diagnose Sjögren’s Syndrome. It’s an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the glands that make tears and saliva. It can also target the joints, thyroid, kidneys, liver, lungs, skin and nerves.

After adopting a new exercise regimen and a vegan diet, she started to recover and able to play again. In fact, she won her first tennis title in two years in 2014 in Dubai. Win or lose, she continued to play.

“I think we all dream of winning tournaments but we don’t think of being more of a force in the game of tennis other than for ourselves. For me that would be the best legacy”, she told CNN.

  1. Jen Snyder

I personally know Jen as she is one of my awesome online business mentors. She is a wife and a mom to the “best 3 crazies” (her words, not mine). She has an online business which “helps women build and grow their online business, so they can have the flexibility to do the work they love while spending time with the people they love.”

When she was 25 years old, she was diagnosed with Lupus. Later on, she discovered she also had Raynaud’s, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and Endometriosis.

Her best piece of advice for anyone living with chronic illness and trying to run a business?

“Listen to your body! If your body is saying rest, rest! Don’t overdo it so you end up in the hospital or worse. Remember we aren’t performing brain surgery or creating oxygen. Our businesses and our missions are important, but we are too!” – Jen

“Listen to your body! If your body is saying rest, rest!”

  1. Kris Carr

Kris is the subject and director of the award-winning documentary film “Crazy Sexy Cancer” which was about her transformation and health journey through cancer. On Valentine’s Day in 2003, she was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer.

She changed her diet and lifestyle and discovered that while she cannot be cured, she could still be healthy and feel better.

She has written 5 best-selling books and created health and wellness programs that inspire, transform and heal a lot of women.

Kris says, “If I can pull that off, just imagine what YOU can do.”

Celebrate What You Can Do

There is no shame in pulling the covers over your head and canceling your appointments to rest and take care of yourself.

There is no shame in pulling the covers over your head and canceling your appointments to rest and take care of yourself.

No shame in your physical limitations.

You may miss those things you used to do. I do, too.

But is it possible you may be taking the things you can still do for granted?

I believe that you have a purpose. Every single day, you are being equipped to fulfill it. There is no one else who can take your place to do it.

What’s Next?

Close your eyes and take 3 deep and slow breaths.

Now, think of the things you can still do.

In the comments, share one of them by completing this sentence:

I can ___________________ and I’m grateful for it.

Lastly, this goes out to you and to the woman in the mirror:

Your essence is within you and no one can take it away from you.

Chronic illness does not make you less of a woman.

Mary is a thriving spoonie, a health blogger, an online solopreneur and a natural healing advocate. Despite chronic illness, she believes spoonies are valuable, strong and capable to make a difference in our society. She is on a mission to help women with chronic illness thrive by sharing her own experiences, fellow spoonies’ success stories, tools, programs and tips that focus on real food. Join her in this journey here.

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