Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Having a Voice, In the Know, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Are You Integrated?

I’m getting ready to leave for Gainesville, Florida where I’ll be taking a week long course on Art and Healing.  The assignment we need to bring to class is to write a paper answering the question “What do you need to heal in your life?  I’ve been thinking a lot about that question because most would say their illness.  That’s true and that’s the immediate, gut response.  The difficult part is differentiating between healing and curing.

As I mentioned in one of my previous sharings, curing is limited for most diseases.  Most life-altering illnesses the hope is to ward off the impact of the disease or the disease progression.  So what is healing?  Healing is about peace.  Healing is about removing the baggage that you keep tripping over while you’re trying to tackle the health issues that are in your body.  Healing requires that you BREATHE!

I asked the question about integration because so many people in the world live compartmentalized lives.  The illness persona is one aspect of their lives and most work very hard to isolate it from the rest of their being.  Integration acknowledges the illness as a part of the whole but not as a defining factor.

When I worked in HIV/AIDS services I would continuously  hear clients say they are HIV+.  I would ask them to stop and rephrase the statement to “I have HIV”.  The difference is in does the illness define your or is it a part of you?  When it’s  a part of you it’s possible to integrate it into a larger picture.  Yes, it will undoubtedly shade your thoughts, visions and ideas about the world, but who you are hasn’t changed, maybe you are more integrated now and there is a  more complete picture waiting to be shared with the world.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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