Learning how to be a Stoic


This is the morning of the second day. So far, I think I am already living a bit like a Stoic – a lot to learn, of course. The reason? Because learning to live with a chronic illness which limits your ability to behave as you always have tends to make one more patient, more able to focus on things that really matter, and to let go things that once upon a time would have dominated one’s thoughts and used up much energy. I don’t like to hear about people fighting their chronic illness, because I feel this is not the best way to manage something you really have no control over. Better to find ways to live with the situation. In my case, for a long time I’ve envisioned my illness (polymyalgia rheumatica) and my medication (prednisone) as two dragons, which my job is to control so they go in the same direction, which I hope will be towards healing. I don’t know if this is the best analogy, but years ago in this blog I wrote about prednisone being a two-faced friend. Some people go into remission in a couple of years, others, like me it seems, end up in this situation for the long haul. I have no choice but to treat this in a stoical manner, accepting that I cannot change the fact that this illness has weakened me, stolen my energy and capacity to do things, but also realizing it won’t kill me, and with the right medication I can live a good life and still enjoy many of the things I like to do. I can control how I feel about the situation, and do what I can to relieve suffering by treating myself kindly and taking my medicine, but the fact of the illness is beyond my control and I cannot fight that.

One response »

  1. Thought-provoking, as always. Your analogy describing your illness and medication as two dragons whom you need to control by urging them in same direction towards healing is a striking one; sad, though, that you’ve had to hold on to the reins of this struggle for so long. There are days when I don’t feel in the least bit stoical, and so I appreciate your reminder that we can control how we feel about the situations we are in, and treat ourselves kindly.

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