Slaying Fibro & Other Invisible Illnesses

Encouragement, Tips, and Ideas from One Slayer to Another

Forgiving Yourself for Chronic Illness

When we are living with chronic illness, sometimes life stops which feels completely unfair. Too often we blame ourselves and our conditions. The reality is that, at times, we need to be at a standstill. The question isn’t if it will happen; it’s how good are you at forgiving yourself for it when it does?



My life stopped last month. Like many with chronic conditions, a stressful month wiped me out. I was prepared to start the month feeling a little run down after a move and an illness, but a few health challenges prompted a complete overhaul of my medications leaving me wiped, ill, and dealing with massive side effects from the transition.

I dropped my basket so to speak (an old southern phrase), and had to simplify and slow down while I worked on things like standing upright without swaying. Vertigo likes to put your world into a fun house and shake it up a bit.

When this happens, it’s okay. However, the guilt hit me like a ton of bricks. Why couldn’t I be more?

Lose the Guilt

A friend recently called guilt a man-made construct. All I can picture is a cage of my own making. I should be able to bust through the bars since I created them, only they keep me locked inside. The self-declared sins of being sick resulting in me being a poor mother, daughter, friend, spouse, writer swim around me like the word bubbles in an old Sunday morning comic page.

A quick search in everyone’s favorite online diagnostic tool, WebMD, tells us that the physical effects of guilt range from headaches, backaches, anxiety, and gastrointestinal problems, and it even contributes to cardiovascular disease.

Not only is this unhealthy, but it’s unfair.

What would you say to a friend who was in the same position? My guess is you’d be softer, more gentle, and understanding. Yet, we can’t do this for ourselves.

We need to step away from the guilt and offer the forgiveness and understanding that we give to others.

Forgiving Yourself

You haven’t asked to be chronically ill, and if you are like most of us, you try everything to grasp hold of a “normal” life. If we are unable to accept that we have not chosen this as a direct consequence of action, then perhaps we need to forgive ourselves.

“Forgiveness is not something we do for other people. It’s something that we do for ourselves.” Annonymous

The simple act of verbalizing forgiveness can release guilt, anxiety, and depression which will open us up to not only emotional healing but physical healing as well.

Try This

Say, “I forgive myself for being ill.”

  1. Say it to yourself quietly.
  2. Now, say it out loud.
  3. If you are a visual learner, stand in front of a mirror or record yourself saying it into your phone to watch when you are feeling guilty about the illness that you can’t control.
  4. Repeat it daily until you believe it.

I’m currently on step four. One of these days I know it will sink in. Until then, I feel a little lighter every day which does my spirit good.

When you forgive yourself and release your guilt over living with a chronic illness, you will create a more relaxed environment for your body to heal. And, we can all do with a little more relaxation.

What are your favorite tips for forgiving yourself? Let’s talk about it in the comments or on Twitter.

About Stephanie Pitcher Fishman

Stephanie Pitcher Fishman is a writer of fiction and family stories who battles fibromyalgia and other invisible illnesses every day. She’s the author of Finding Eliza, The Widow Teal, and many genealogy guides in the Quick & Easy Guides for Genealogists series. You can find her author page at She writes about her experiences with fibromyalgia at

Taking care of yourself is not optional.

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Slaying your dragon (aka your pain) takes a lot out of you. Those of us with chronic illness really need time to heal and care of not just our bodies but our mind and soul as well. Let me help by giving you my best tips and ideas in my eBook Self Care 10 Ways (When You Just Feel Like Lying in Bed)for FREE.

  • Nicole Mackey

    I kept this page open, so that I would remember to take those steps today.