Have you recently been out shopping, even if you were exhausted from your chronic disease? Or have you gone to school or work, even though you were in pain and had many symptoms? Congratulations, you can be proud of yourself! I hope that when you went to bed in the evening, you looked back on your day with satisfaction and pride, telling yourself that once again you had succeeded despite your illness. Even if what you did seemed insignificant or ridiculous. Even if you felt you had done little.
Celebrating the small wins of everyday life to move forward
Celebrating wins, even those that seem small, is crucial in a chronic disease to value what one manages to do, and thus not to focus on what is no longer possible. I am not talking about a blissful optimism that would ignore the reality of the situation. Celebrating one’s wins means realistically acknowledging that certain tasks or actions have become more difficult with the disease. It also means accepting this new situation. Finally, it means not letting yourself be overwhelmed by the disease, and continuing to move forward, even in the most difficult moments.
A win can be something simple, like going to the bakery to buy bread on a day when you feel dizzy, or something more complicated, like travelling in a wheelchair. But all victories will have that in common that they have been another opportunity to surpass oneself and one’s disease, to go beyond what we and others thought we could do. It is to say to oneself: “Yes, today I can be proud of myself, I did the best I could, given how I felt.”
Looking back to feel better
Celebrating your wins is based on this current trend, which advises people to look back at their day, noting the positive points, but placing more emphasis on what they manage to do in spite of their disease.
When I am not well, acknowledging what I’ve managed to do in spite of everything, allows me to lessen the temporary attack of depression caused by a deterioration in my physical condition. If I’ve managed to do at least one thing that was a bit beyond my physical limits of that day, I have less the feeling of a wasted day that I sometimes get on days when I’ve only managed to watch TV shows or read comic books…
When things are going better, the exercise of looking back has a dual purpose. First, it allows you to justify the symptoms that have increased at the end of the day because of too much activity – it’s a risk I easily succumb to – and thus to not completely forget that you are ill and that you must take care of yourself, even when you are feeling fine. Looking back on the wins is a means of improving self-esteem in the medium term. As a matter of fact, when I am feeling better, the wins are often greater, more impressive compared to the limits imposed by the illness. These are all things that will seem far away when my condition gets worse again. It always helps me in those moments, to think back on everything I’ve been able to do, thinking that it will come back, even though it may take some time.
Looking back on your wins also means taking care of yourself in the challenges you face because of the illness and not focusing only on the weaknesses caused by the disease. So, don’t hesitate any longer, celebrate your wins and be proud of yourself, of what you are doing despite and in spite of your disease!