I’ve been sick for most of my life, and as such, illness ended up becoming a basic part of my identity: I was the sick girl, the one with all the weird symptoms and intolerances and diagnoses and treatments. The last several years, while I was full time healing from end stage Chronic Lyme Disease, my entire life revolved around illness.
So when I hit remission several months ago, it wasn’t just “Yay I’m better!” but also “Woah, now what?” What did I want to spend my time doing now that my days wasn’t packed with pills and needles and coffee enemas? For soooo long, all I’d really wanted was to feel better. Now that I did, what did I want to do with my new wellness?
Well, for one thing, I decided to work towards making Hope Heal Cook everything I’d dreamed it could be.
However, the more time and energy I put into HHC, the more I found myself talking about illness, symptoms and treatments. And something about that began to feel a bit off. I mean, here I was, finally in remission, free to enjoy a new life —one not totally overwhelmed by all-things-chronic-illness— yet my work as a blogger basically revolved around all-things-chronic-illness.
After a while, I began to noticed that increasingly my heart wasn’t 100% into what I was doing. I was getting distracted a lot. I kinda just wanted to go play outside and binge read nerdy fiction.
Then, back in May, my devices got spyware hacked and all my accounts become compromised (huge “Boooo” on that, BTW.) After much technical frustration, I finally just shut everything down. That’s when I remembered what my Dr had told me when I’d first hit remission.
She’d recommend that I take 3 months off in order to step back and explore my new life.
At the time I was like, “Yeah right, the last thing I need is MORE time doing less!” However, I believe everything happens for a reason & in that moment I was able to see the hacking, and eventual deactivation of my social media accounts, as a message. (This sorta thing has happened before, see: The Instagram Shadowban & Finding the Loving Wisdom at the Center of Our Struggles.)
The message this time seemed to be something along the lines of: “Kat, take a dang break like your Dr told you. Also, oh my goodness, you are so freaking stubborn, I can’t believe it took THIS to get you to consider taking time off.” Yeah, okay. Fair enough.
So I decided to listen.
I committed to taking off as much time as I wanted to explore my new life in remission before going back online. Which ended up being about 3 months, or exactly what my Dr suggested (she’s a smart lady.) Within just a few weeks I realized why taking time off was so important. It gave me the opportunity to take a break not just from working, but from talking about illness.
That allowed me, for the very first time, to distance myself from my identity as someone who was sick. Until I unplugged, I was still somewhat trapped in my old identity because most of my online interactions were about illness and healing.
By taking a “Social Media Sabbatical” I was finally able to just be ME. And that freedom, was deeply, and profoundly healing.
It allowed me to reconnect with the parts of myself that over the years were overshadowed by symptoms and treatments. I got to not talk about or think about illness. Instead I got to focus on rebuilding my life without feeling the need to simultaneously share my journey. That was important.
Here’s why: only when we allow ourselves to fully move forward out of illness, can we fully enter into a New Wellness. That transition takes time and space. It requires pulling back from our past, where we were sick, in order to more completely and intentionally dwell in the present, where wellness has been achieved.
For me, that meant unplugging, and I’m so glad I did. Talking about our healing journeys helps. A lot. It lets us process the feels, connect with others, and find information and support when we need it most. But now I know that not talking about our healing journey, at least for a while once we’ve healed, can be just as beneficial.
I want to thank everyone for all the wonderful Welcome Backs I’ve received on social media, and apologize again for any worry I caused when I sorta suddenly digitally disappeared.
I missed you all, and it’s good to be back.
May you eat well, live well & enjoy a New Wellness.
Hugs & paperbacks,
P. S. Can you relate to anything I’ve shared? What helps you to maintain an identity separate from your diagnosis?
“Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” ~ Kristin Armstrong
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