Photo by Phil
An acute illness can have critical consequences, disrupting numerous aspects of one’s life. Staying mentally healthy can be tricky when one is struck with these significant events, deranging how one views their life’s purpose.
Recovery from severe illness can be debilitating. The light at the end of the tunnel may be alluring to others, signaling a new chance for a better life. However, for some, those who’ve been through hell and back fighting their illnesses may already be too depleted during the grapple that they end up spiraling down once things get better.
At this point, it becomes less about taking back the control they’ve lost because of their illness. Instead, it’s more on relaxing and recuperating their depleted energy and the realization of how much they’ve missed on life during their recovery. They’ve been through so much that they fail to see their situation as hopeful. Instead, they might regret or blame their sickness for missing most of their lives. Falling into this mindset makes them less able to spring back up and see this second chance at life through an optimistic lens, failing to make sense of their lives.
Losing Life’s Purpose After Recovery
An individual’s life purpose isn’t something handed to them by another. They cultivate or establish it by themselves, a personal motivator encompassing the whys of their existence identified through their behaviors and routines. This life’s purpose should be what people envision from their lives, such as how they want to continue living it and what they want to achieve by the end of it.
Some find this purpose in their families, careers, or hobbies – mundane and routine things that others might find challenging to see the meaning in. However, life’s purpose isn’t measured by its intensity or nature. It doesn’t have to be anything grand as long as it helps people answer the points of their lives. Now, this is where things can get complicated. When asked “what the point of everything is,” people who’ve gone through hell and back might find themselves stuck looking for an answer.
This vision can become hazy for those who’ve gone through and recovered from severe illnesses. Many can recover from illnesses, but only a fraction returns with optimism. They must consciously and willfully brave through the illusion that their conditions have destroyed their lives, or they’ll lose the essence of their lives and give up adding meaning to them, just like how nurse and author Alison Keenan rediscovered her life after struggling with her rare disease and her dog’s condition. Instead of succumbing to these challenges, Alison worked harder and achieved her purpose of helping others through her program READing Paws.
How did she do it?
Getting Through Emotional Turmoil
Being diagnosed with a threatening condition is life-changing. It changes not only people’s routines and lifestyles but also influences how they view life. When they’re managing life with illnesses, it’s easy to see life as bleak. The initial step to getting back on their feet is overcoming the emotional confusion one might’ve felt during and even after recovery. They must acknowledge what they’re going through without blaming themselves to be able to live wholeheartedly through the struggle. The moment they get through this emotional turmoil, they won’t see themselves as less worthy of happiness and will gain strength in finding their life’s purpose.
Focus On What’s Available
This includes not looking back to what they may have lost throughout their illness and not opening themselves to feeling regretful of missed chances. Once they’ve gained back their footing after what they’ve gone through, it’s time they acknowledge the goodness left in their lives. This abundance makes one’s life’s purpose clearer. When they shift their focus on what they have instead of what their illnesses have let slip.
Ownership of Life
The greatest fulfillment comes from facing life head-on and taking full responsibility. To find life’s purpose, one must decide what one genuinely wants and not just depend on what society and others want from them. Taking ownership is especially important for people who’ve experienced life-changing events, as considering this situation a massive part of one’s life can be easy. Some may even revolve their lives around these conditions, even after recovery. The changes they’ve undergone may have been embedded into their lives, so they’ll find it challenging to return to normal afterward.
This intercepts the grip they have over their lives. Instead of designing their lives, they become victims of their past circumstances.
Write the Story
Writing can be highly therapeutic. Not to mention, it helps people organize their thoughts and put things in perspective. This doesn’t only improve their memory but also decreases stress. Instead of simply thinking, writing them ensures people won’t forget about them, leading them to a concrete vision – hence, a more apparent life’s purpose. By jotting things, even the most mundane experiences, people can see patterns, their strengths, and how they may have changed over time.