Your Illness Does Not Define You

January 26, 2018 Health

On Friday morning I gave a talk about how your illness does not define you and that reminded me of something I used to really struggle with. When I first got diagnosed with psoriasis, and for about 16 years after that, I deeply believed that my illness was what defined me.  Getting it at such a young and developmental age it became a huge part of my personality. The way I dressed, the friends I made, the food I ate and so on were all determined by my skin condition. So of course I felt it was what made me, me!

It wasn’t until years later after doing a lot of introspective work on myself that I realized that my illness does not define me or who I am. At all. Sure it has shaped me in moments and has pushed me countless times.  It is a beautiful compass and teacher in my life and shows me where to go and when to stay still. But there are a hundred other qualities, attributes and life experiences that makeup who Nitika is. Ya feel me?

As I spoke to this audience on Friday I was filled with such a deep sense of pride and humility all at once.  How humbling is it to acknowledge that although our chronic conditions can be a huge part of our daily lives, they do not have to have power over every aspect of them? Also feeling pride that I was at a place in my life where I could own that authentically which wasn’t always the case.

It took me years to understand that I wasn’t my disease. Sometimes it was hard for me to embrace that because of the attention I would get from being sick (more on that in another post!) and other times it felt devastating to separate my identity from the crippling pain I was in which was constantly shaking me to my core. If you’re in that place right now, where it is hard to see your condition as separate from you, just know I completely get it and you are not alone.

One thing that really helped me was actively asking myself what I liked and didn’t like. I started doing this after I got divorced at 24 and realized the only thing I felt like I really knew about myself was that I was sick. To be honest it felt pretty silly at first but I slowly started to get really into it! Are you up for giving it a try? Some of the questions I started with are below.

I would ask….

What’s your favorite color?

What’s your favorite thing about yourself?

What’s your favorite food?

What type of fashion do you love?

What’s your favorite song?

Where do you want to travel to?

What’s been one of the happiest moments in your life so far?

What do you LOVE to do for fun with friends?

What’s your favorite sport or extra-curricular activity?

And the list just kept going from there. Again, these questions might seem trivial but it really allowed me to be in total discovery mode and curiosity with myself and I started to have a lot of fun with it.

I learned that I love Janet Jackson, my favorite color is green, I am a sucker for gluten free-tomato free-dairy free pizza (yes it’s a thing and not gross!), I am a singer, an activist, and entrepreneur and when I feel really comfortable with someone my goofy side comes out which is kind of my favorite. I also happen to be a psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patient.

Now it’s your turn! I absolutely love seeing your comments on the blog, like they literally make me so happy and it fulfills me on such a deep level to know that this content is resonating with you. Can you relate to this weeks post? What ways do you keep yourself grounded and allow yourself to not feel that your condition defines you? Let me know below!

Thank you for reading.

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