When you have a chronic illness you can struggle to find a purpose in life. A reason to get up in the morning. If you are well you probably have a job that you go to 5 days a week. This gives you a focus in life. Not everyone enjoys their work, but it still gives you something to do, a purpose. In my life, I have had many jobs, as an employee, and as an employer, and I always enjoyed what I did. I felt that I was part of something greater than just me.

Now my ability to work has reduced due to my constant headaches. I find concentrating on anything difficult. Hence calling the blog “A 30 Minute LIfe”. I live in 30-minute segments, with rest in between (see Why the blog is named “A 30-Minute Life”). This makes having a traditional job difficult, nearly impossible. I certainly cannot do what I trained for. So now I am living in a transition phase. Thankfully I am in receipt of Disability Allowance which gives me a small, but stable income every week. One of the great things about the Disability Allowance is that it permits me to engage in remedial work. This work provides me with a purpose. A reason to get out of bed for 3 days of the week.

The work that I do can be very interesting, as I survey people about their opinions on many different subjects. I am continually surprised by the people that I meet, and the experiences they have had. This job involves me walking around different neighbourhoods, knocking on doors. In the last 6 months, my walking has become much slower, with my right foot dropping all the time. In order to get enough surveys completed in a day, I have to knock on enough doors, and the number of doors I can knock on in a day is becoming less, and less. My fatigue has also increased, and now I spend the day after work in a complete fog, totally listless. This is becoming an issue.


So now I have a choice to make, and as someone with a chronic illness, I have to make hard choices all the time. I have to look at my situation objectively and see if I can solve this problem of not being able to work as a market researcher, or, more succinctly, losing my purpose in life. The biggest danger is that I will make my plans based on emotion. Anger, frustration, despair are all emotions that I could feel when planning for the future. These emotions are all negative. By allowing these to govern my decision making I will have no room for being positive, or being creative. This process requires creativity, and a desire to do something that will be good for others, and as a result, fulfil my need to be a contributor to society and not a drain.

Being Creative

Have I found what I will do to keep my purpose? Not yet, but this blog, and keeping a journal are both tools that I am using to see if there is something that I can do, that doesn’t require long hours of concentration, or physical work. Both of these are creative, and I feel that I am contributing to my blog. If you follow me on Twitter @a30minutelife you will see that I have been involved with a discussion about fatigue on the inaugural DizzyCast (it is a must listen). This community that I am part of has welcomed me and has given me back much more than I have given. I must see what I can do to help more.

How do you approach these times of transition in your life? How do you overcome the fear of change? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading, and please share this post.

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2 thoughts on “Finding ‘Purpose’ when you have a Chronic Illness

  1. Brilliant post Robert. It’s such a difficult one but the most important thing for me is to always be doing/working on something. If I’m going through a patch of not being able to do much just something simple like taking photos for a blog post can really help. 🙂
    I’ve always hated change though so haven’t found a way of dealing with the fear of that yet. Maybe one day I will! xxx

    1. Thank you for the comment Heather. It is true, even doing something small, but significant, helps. Fear can be a block, unfortunately, but I try to channel the energy created by the fear in a way that I can use to overcome the obstacle.

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