Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness


I often wonder if Henry David Thoreau was correct when he said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.  We live in a culture where repression is a way of life.  We’re afraid of “being who we really are” or concerned about being shunned for following the path decorated with our gifts and talents for the “brass ring”.  Many people are in relationships that are unfulfilling or troubled.  Then there are those who have been diagnosed with an illness and are still trying be the “good patient”.

Over the past few months I have met many people who have/are leading lives of quiet desperation.  However, they seem to have one thing in common; they saw a glimmering light that was a beacon to possibility.  As I watch these individuals I’m surprised at how the pendulum has swung and they are experiencing a freedom they never felt before.  There is a light in their eyes that is exuberant, but at the same time because it’s new and untested has to mindful that it doesn’t get away from the person.

I remember the first time I saw the movie with William Hurt, “The Doctor”.  Hurt plays a doctor who eventually gets diagnosed with cancer and the tables on his life are turned.  He meets a woman, another patient, who has abandoned the “shoulds” in her life and she takes him on an adventure of “Living” that he hadn’t experienced in any other time in his life.  The trouble is like Hurt’s character in the film, most people can’t handle that amount of newness or reclaimed life in one felt swoop.

Where does this leave us?  Following the diagnosis of a chronic or life-altering illness, I’ve heard many people live life as if they were given a gift.  What you do with that gift is entirely up to you, however learning to manage this new freedom, awakening, or unrepressed living can be as scary as a life of quiet desperation.  This is when it’s important to take baby steps.  When having this awakening try new things, that’s why a “bucket list” is so good because it’s a list of possibility.  See what’s on your list and attainable, and what things need to be worked toward to accomplish.

I hope you’ll think of this awakening as part of the continuum of life and full expression is the goal.  There is a disclaimer to all this…you don’t live in a vacuum, so be mindful that others in your life still have to adjust or find ways of sharing this awakening with you.  You still need support on your journey to wellness, but you may find some new pilgrims along your pilgrimage to health and healing who will be your sherpa through this confusing and exciting time.

Are you having an awakening?  Let me know so we can be on this journey together!


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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