A Letter to my Newly-Diagnosed Past Self
By: Kristen Cosner
Companion Magazine Staff Writer
When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness of any kind, your life begins to change in ways that you may have never envisioned. You are thrown into new experiences, many of which are very scary and uncertain. You fight hard to hold onto the life that you once knew, but sometimes these chronic illnesses force us to change, whether we like it or not. But whether you realize it or not, your chronic illness makes you stronger, braver, and more resilient than ever before: just look at where you started and where you are now. At times I wish I could go back in time and talk to myself early in my diagnosis and tell her that everything will be OK, that she will be OK. If I could go back and write a letter to my newly-diagnosed self, here is what it would say:
I know how scary everything must seem right now; how uncertain your future may seem to be. You have been dealt a hand that you did not ask for, nor did you ever expect. You will be tested in ways that you could never imagine: physically, emotionally, mentally, and you may feel like giving up. Please do not give up. Your journey has only just begun. Through the tears, the pain, and the heartache, you will meet countless incredible individuals. Those individuals will lift you up in times of doubt and become beacons of light in your life. And know that when the times comes for you to spread your wings, to go off on your own and say goodbye to these individuals: they may leave your immediate life, but they will never leave your heart. Their kindness, compassion, and love will stay with you forever. Carry their words as precious tokens in your journey and use them when you are feeling lost.
You will also face many difficult changes and, at times, these changes may carry the weight of the world. Do not be afraid to cry. Crying is not a sign of weakness, rather a symbol of strength. Reach out to family and friends; you are never alone, even if you may feel as if you are.
Whether you realize it right now or not, your story will go on to inspire thousands of other people battling both similar and different diseases. While you inspire, you will be inspired daily by the incredible stories of strength and bravery that you are told from around the world. Use the platform that you have created to raise awareness and use your voice to reveal both the good times and the bad times during your journey.
Losing sight of the way you thought your life would go is terrifying. You may not feel strong right now, but know that throughout this journey, even during the moments when you feel as if you cannot go on any longer, you are growing stronger. Every setback will yield an even stronger comeback. Have patience and be kind to your body as it works hard to heal and strengthen. Slow progress is better than no progress. You have been given this journey for a reason and, although right now nothing makes sense, you will experience moments of clarity that help light your path to the future. I know you are in pain right now, but pain does not last forever. I know it may feel like you will feel like this forever, but tough times do not last forever either. Seek happiness. Always look for that glimmer of light in the darkness and if you cannot find it, create your own light. Let your journey shape you, but do not let it define you. You are so much more than the challenges you are facing right now. You have a bright future ahead of you; a future that is full of happiness, love, adventure, and more. Do not let this setback rob you of your love for life. Watch the sunset, lay in the grass, sing at the top of your lungs, make a chocolate cake and eat it too, use your voice to change the world, and never, ever give up.
Stay strong, little fighter. I believe in you."