depression, illness, self worth

How To Reclaim Your Worth Despite Illness

“You should have seen it!  I’m going to name it Colossus!”  And with that declaration, Q and I celebrated with a fist-pump in the count of what would be the first of six bowel movements that day.  This is a typical celebration shortly after I’ve rolled my butt out of bed mid-morning and drank a smoothie.  After such exertion from all my hard work, I relax on the couch sans makeup, hair in a bun and still in my pj’s.  It’s a far cry from where my life used to be.  Illness brings many surprises.

I remember at the onslaught of being told I was terminal I felt devalued.  Who would ever expect to feel inconsequential to strangers and loved ones alike all because you’re incurable?  But I did.  Within days of receiving the news, I questioned internally whether Q might leave.  Not because he’s unreliable or an asshole but because fear told me that being “terminal” was undesirable.  I wondered if he were secretly looking for his next wife in every female we met.  It was shortly after this crazy thought about Q that I worried that should I find myself in the hospital with a medical emergency would the doctors in the ER even bother to try to save my life?  It sounds ridiculous but in my mind, I thought why attempt to save something that is already dying?

When I was eventually forced to leave my job I felt even more devalued.  Financially I had failed to continue to be a partner in my marriage and was now a dependent (or burden as I like to say).  And where my work days were spent attending executive board meetings, managing million dollar projects and navigating a highly skilled IT team, I now found myself going from one disturbing treatment to the next, in between Sudoku and tv surfing.  My career made me feel relevant and necessary.  Not only in what it provided financially to my family but while working I was dynamic and totally in control.  In my career, I was a confident, outspoken extrovert who’s vocabulary surpassed most to the extent I constantly had to explain to people what I meant by what I said.  But after years of professional couch sitting, I don’t even know how to use those words anymore.  They’re contained within my mind but I struggle to release them intelligently, intermixed with other words to form a proper sentence.  I mean I’m not grunting and snorting as communication yet but my mind certainly isn’t as vivid as it once was.

In my previous life, I was always fashionably dressed and accessorized.  My nails were always manicured, my hair styled to perfection.  It was important how I looked.  Although I still get my hair styled by my stylist (Tabs is the best 😉) for the most part it’s kept tied in a knot on the top of my head.  Sweatpants and t-shirts are my new haute couture because they’re stretchy and comfortable.  My nails are no longer manicured and I rarely if ever, wear makeup.  Who has time for lipstick and emery boards when your body demands naps and enemas?

depression, illness, self worth
Lily chauffeuring Jack
depression, illness, self worth
Calumazoo taking photo of his Mom and Nananspooz

As a mother I was always chauffeuring to skating and guitar lessons, soccer practice the list went on.  When my children had problems at school or with a peer, I was the one who marched to their defence and fought on their behalf.  That person of yesterday is not the person of today.  The person I am now, spends their hours quietly, an introvert avoiding the world, contemplating whether they really can fit 2 scoops of raisins in that one box of cereal.  I don’t take anyone anywhere anymore.  Not even myself.  I can’t be trusted – because I have no idea half the time what day it is, let alone what month or year.  I’m oblivious to the clock of the working world.

Eventually, these negative thoughts would wane but time played no role in erasing the feelings of unworthiness.  Instead, it would be the actions of others that would allow me to reclaim my merit.  It started when I went into anaphylactic shock during an MRI.  When the dye was released into my veins it took only moments before a thousand needles pierced my throat and I began to choke.  After a shot of adrenaline and some pain meds, I spent the remainder of the day in the ER.  It was then I began to suspect that maybe, just maybe doctors might try to save my life in an emergency.  I mean I know they just had, but if they hadn’t they would have essentially killed me and of course, no one wants that on their conscious.  With hesitation, I felt somewhat valued.

depression, illness, self worth
Lily & her children
depression, illness, self worth
Lily & Meka

With so many treatments, medicines and appointments my appearance took a back seat.  And although my eyebrows had filled in like fuzzy caterpillars across my forehead and my clothing was reminiscent of a college basketball player Q was still here.  Maybe, just maybe he still found me desirable.  With hesitation, I felt somewhat valued.

I would speak with my Mom daily and the first thing out of her mouth was to inquire about how I felt.  She was always concerned and cared whether it was a good day or a bad day.  My children kept asking for help, even if it were only for spinach dip recipes and my advice on whether that blouse really did look good with those boots.  I was possibly still an integral part of all of their lives and with hesitation, I felt somewhat valued.

Whether I walked out of the house for 5 hours or 5 minutes, upon my return I was always greeted by my puppies, Meka and Winston like I’d been gone a century.  Kisses and jumps followed by more kisses.  And with hesitation, I felt somewhat valued.

But it took the comment of a complete stranger to restore my virtue without doubt or hesitation.  I had been scheduled for an ultrasound and after reading my diagnosis on the chart the only words out of the tech’s mouth were, “I”m sorry this is happening to you.”  Those words were so profound to me.  After a slight pause of uncertainty, I thanked her.  Quietly I sat through the procedure contemplating, “Why would she be sorry?  Why should she care?”, considering I was a complete stranger.  But after much thought and consideration, I realized my value wasn’t in the amount of money I could bring home, nor the power and autonomy I had enjoyed in my career.  My worthiness wasn’t dictated by how much I shuttled my children from here to there or how many battles I fought on their behalf.  My significance in this world also wasn’t contained in my appearance regardless of how others may have perceived how good or bad I looked.  My value was in me as a person.  My life was valuable simply because I existed.  And as a human being watching another human suffer, the ultrasound tech had shown me my worth through her words of compassion of my situation.

depression, illness, self worth
Lily, Q, Jack & Li

Although my motherly duties now consist of administering kibble, my career is scanning Netflix for something to watch, my days are spent counting poops and it’s obvious I haven’t been keeping up with the Kardashians or their beauty tips, I’m ok with it.  Because I’m a mother, wife, daughter, sister and a member of this species and there is nothing more valuable.

~ True North Nomad

Has a life-altering moment made you re-evaluate your worth?  Tell us in the comments below.

“You either walk inside your story and own it or stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness” – Not following TNN? WordPress User’s click button to your right.  For everyone else, enter your email address and click “follow” bottom right and never miss an impassioned tale again!

50 thoughts on “How To Reclaim Your Worth Despite Illness

  1. I am so sorry you are going through this (to echo that kind woman’s words). Lily, I only know you as a vibrant, beautiful being I’ve had the good fortune to “meet” here in WordPress land. You are not your illness, you are valuable beyond words.


  2. It is easy to say but hard to do…we could all try to see the good in life rather than the bad. Awesome post! Wonderful words! For what it’s worth, I value your posts and the fact you share thoughts like this with the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Graham. It’s hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable and allow others into your head. Especially for me – I’ve always been very guarded with what I reveal. But I’m glad it’s valued. Take care, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My heart ached for you as I read this. Reading your words made me realize just how trivial my “problems”are. I will always remember us sitting in the rink watching our girls on the ice and the talks we would have. You have always had a great sense of humour, been very open and honest and generous with your time and your talents and your blogs prove that. Keep sharing and I hope when you, Q and the pups journey back into this neck of the woods you will stop in and we can have a martini or two. Oh, and happy belated!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I miss those days on the rink… Oh if we could only go back. I’m looking forward to that martini!!! I hope you haven’t found any creepy bears on your doorstep of late… LOL take care and I’ll see you the next time I’m in town.


  4. You are such a special person! I hope you never forget how valued you are ever again, especially in times like these. You are the greatest gift and I love you with all my heart mom ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. The little kindnesses and words spoken. If we all only knew the impact of our words maybe we’d choose them more wisely. Take care and thank you for dropping by!


    1. Thanks, Rich! I’m going to keep going because I have this huge country to document! On a side note – I’ve been on Vancouver Island this winter and my lord does it rain here! I hope you are getting snow and sunshine on the mainland. Take care and keep in touch!


  5. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am struck by the gift of a simple statement by a technician that turned everything around for you — and feel blessed by the gift of it myself, although I have not walked your path nor experience. Live every day as if it could be the last — true for all of us, brought to clear and present mind by this thoughtful piece. Yours in health and whole-hearted living! Be well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lily, this is a great post. You are a very wise woman, you don´t give up, but you accept things you can´t change.
    I understand what you mean “With hesitation, I felt somewhat valued.” I have had and have that hesitation, because of my illness taking my ability to walk.
    All the best and warm hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess once we realize we’re not just our legs (as in your case) or how good we look, or our job etc. we can finally see our value. I hope you are doing better than expected with what has happened. I think of you often and keep you in my prayers. Take care, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Really a valuable post Lily, as all of us can learn by. To remember to see each other behind the masks too.
    I appreciate, that you share your story here with us.

    Some years ago, many years too early, I needed to recognize, that I was no longer able to work again. This was more than difficult and I fought for years to come back, but no. After being independent for years to not being able to work any longer and then so young, it was no fun, but not terminal.

    Last summer I spent two month in hospital, where of 35 days at ICU. That was an eye-opener too. Since then I have been thinking and wondering about, what I wish to do with the rest of my life to live it fulfilling. I didn’t find that answer yet. That time it was serious, the doctors said, that one more day, before I arrived and I would have been dead. I survived, for what I feel very grateful.

    The most important must be to live every day, like it could be the last. Then we will have less to regret.

    Wish you all the best, Lily.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember last summer… I was very scared for you. I hope you get to live fulfilled, each day as if it were your last. Fill it with love of that new grandson of yours. I’m so happy you are better. Hugs Irene and as always thank you for your support and wisdom.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. thanks for this post, Lily.
    I have a few chronic illnesses so I know about feeling ill all the time.
    I felt esp worthless when my then-husband left me. After 42 years. I was ‘no fun’ anymore. It took a few years before I could find back my selfworth and now, although my ailments are bigger, I am a very happy free person. I can create paintings all hours of the day and night, just as I like it 🙂 And nobody has a say over that besides me :).
    My live-changing moment came many years earlier, when I was in my twenties and die and returned to my body. It was a wonderfull experience and since then I know being death is being more alive than living in a body.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry your ex-husband didn’t realize your worth. It’s a scary place to be already without someone walking out and leaving you to fend off the demons on your own. It is a testament to your strength that you are now a happy, free person! Take care my friend and thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve been chronically ill for 10 years, thankfully in the past year my multitude of meds has given me a better quality of life, (she writes from her bed). But I’ve discovered writing during that time, sliver linings. Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, silver linings.. my blog was born from my illness and I have done a great deal in that time that no one expected. I write from my bed often as well. But it doesn’t matter – I love to write. I wish you well and all the health in the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I could relate to every part of this, and have to admit to tearing in places. I don’t have a terminal disease, but it is incurable, and the thoughts of my husband being burdened with me ongoing tears me apart. So much of life is lost in illness, and like you I have had to struggle to find my worth in it all – it’s there, but does like to flitter away every once in a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was surprising, to say the least when I first felt that way. Who would have expected to feel unworthy? You’re so right – too much is lost on illness. I try to make decisions every day to not lose any more to it. I remember when I was finally diagnosed it became apparent that the previous doctor’s had missed it – thus allowing it to fester. I was asked if I was mad at those Dr’s for missing it. In truth, I wasn’t. We’re human. And anger was something I didn’t want in my heart. So I told them NO, I refused to let this illness take any more from me then it might already have taken. I wish you well and hope your journey is unexpectedly easier than first thought. Take care, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Lily. As you will understand, while many doors closed, news ones opened up. My life is different in so many ways – I am blessed with people and opportunities that I might not have appreciated before. Writing is one of them. My husband and this adventure we are on is another. Somehow life works out – eventually.


  11. Lily, you ARE amazing and valued and worth every moment! I (like others) enjoy reading your posts, seeing your beautiful photos but thank you for sharing who you used to be! It reminds the rest of us that these things can happen without notice, can happen to the best of us, and DO make us re-evaluate our lives. Q loves you because he too IS a GOOD person (like yourself) and you are fortunate to have him as well. I too hate that you are ‘struggling’ (and boy can I relate to the power of the poo – hope that makes you smirk/smile?), I’ve got IBS but also feel like the damn doctors don’t literally know SHIT about what’s going on with my body. I’ve accepted it myself – now they just use the ‘old lady’ card with me. But reading this just reminds ME to re-evaluate, to feel a kinship and to also appreciate YOU for being YOU and for allowing us to share! Hugs my blogger friend!! And remember, if you all cross the border (hee hee) your always welcome here in the suburbs of the Greater Seattle! Laura

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I love that ‘old lady’ card… Isn’t it nice? Thank you, my friend, for all the kind words. It has been therapeutic for me to write and if it can help anyone or make them feel not alone then its worth it! And I’ve been dying (no pun intended) to go to Washington State so I may have to take you up on the offer!!! Take care, Laura.


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