What Chronic Illness Taught Me About Kindness

There’s a point in your life when you realize that you are different. It can be as simple as having different tastes in music than your friends. You might love listening to show tunes ( even as a 10 year old ) or you might not wear the same trendy clothes.

I’ve never been what some people might call normal. I’ve never really fit in with any particular group, but it was my health that made me feel REALLY different.

My first diagnosis was with severe hypoglycemia when I was 12. It turned out to be a misdiagnosis… but moving on.

Instead of worrying about normal preteen things, I was learning to check my blood sugar and to eat on a strict schedule. It made me feel even more different.

Then I grew up, and time went on. I started having the early symptoms of MS. For me mainly blurry vision, numbness and tingling.

It took me many years before I would acknowledge that my health was changing, and even more years after that before I got the diagnosis of MS.

At first I felt defined by my diagnosis. You can’t see MS. It’s what is called an invisible illness, although I firmly believe that no illness is invisible if you take the time to look. The MS diagnosis made me feel I had a neon sign flashing the word ‘different’ on my forehead.

I was angry. Why did my body betray me? Why couldn’t doctors just instantly fix me? Why does no one understand how I feel?

Over time those feelings changed. I found a doctor that goes above and beyond for me. My amazing family and friends got even more amazing. I learned that life truly does go on, no matter what it throws in your path. I learned that kindness makes that path a lot easier to walk.

Kindness matters more than almost anything. When you make a simple kind gesture – hold a door open for someone, offer them a smile, you impact their life. You may not even realize it.

There are billions of people in the world. Every one of them is going through something you know nothing about. My illnesses have taught me to think more before I speak. I’ve learned to judge less. Do something nice for someone whenever I can. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small.

It all begins and ends with kindness. Be kind to yourself. The world is already hard enough on it’s own. Be kind to others. You never know who needs it.