My Chronic Illness Healed My Life

How transformation can emerge from the depths of despair

Manya Ronay
Know Thyself, Heal Thyself
3 min readMay 23, 2022

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Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

When I got sick seven years ago, all I wanted was a quick fix. I was an 18-year-old journalism student suddenly thrust into a world of unpredictable symptoms, doctor’s visits and tests. I was diagnosed with POTS, an autonomic nervous system disorder that turned my life upside down with symptoms ranging from pre-fainting spells to extreme dizziness, fatigue, insomnia and more. My college years at Rutgers University were largely spent inside on the couch, where I quickly completed assignments during my more functional moments.

After conventional medicine failed to control my symptoms, I delved into the world of holistic medicine. I experimented with acupuncture, nutrition, mind-body medicine, Reiki, meditation and more. I loved it all. Holistic medicine gave me a sense of empowerment, as well as crucial insight into how food and environment affects our health.

I became so inspired learning about the importance of lifestyle that I shifted gears from journalism and pursued an MS in Health Education and Behavior from University of Florida. I hope to unite my two passions and help others heal through health writing and coaching.

Meanwhile, I approached each new healing modality thinking, “This will be IT!” — the cure-all to my problems. And each modality did help, just not enough to restore me to full functionality. I felt disheartened, especially hearing about people finding their solution in one of these areas. Where was my answer?

Last year, I was fortunate enough to enter therapy and realize the extent of my unhealthy coping patterns, lack of healthy boundaries and childhood traumas. This newfound knowledge sent me on another journey to not just heal my body — but to heal my life.

I learned to get in touch with myself and my intuition, speaking up for what I need and saying no to what doesn’t feel right. I learned how to set boundaries and distance myself from unhealthy relationships. I learned that my job is not to please others and that my value does not lie in external approval. My main responsibility is to take care of myself. When my body knows it’s safe and can count on me, that is when true healing can occur.

This self-transformation process has been the most rewarding part of my healing journey. I learned that healing is not a one-time event but a lifelong process. Healing means achieving wholeness as a person, not just curing a physical ailment. As Dr. Bernie Siegel writes in Peace, Love and Healing, “What this means is that neither my patients nor I need ever face the inevitability of failure, for no matter how life-threatening their disease or how unlikely a cure, healing is always possible.”

Healing means achieving wholeness as a person, not just curing a physical ailment.

So I will continue balancing my nervous system and immune system to heal from POTS and Hashimoto’s, which I was diagnosed with last year. But I now understand that my primary job is to heal my life, not just my body. As Dr. Siegel has witnessed many times working with chronically ill patients, a healed life can lead to a physical cure. But the physical cure is just a by-product, not the end goal. As Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross notes, “If you become whole again, you’re healed.”

Now, my goal is to live an authentic, healthy life — and to help others do the same in my role as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®). I am so grateful for the physical ailments that sent me on this journey, and I’m even more grateful I didn’t find my “cure-all” in the conventional or holistic medical world. Alas, if I did, I would have stopped there and missed the opportunity to heal my life.

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Manya Ronay
Know Thyself, Heal Thyself

Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) and Internal Family Systems (IFS) practitioner specializing in eating and mind-body healing.