The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness


Some days it hurts to breathe and a cough can become scary. I’ve learned that a cough is not usually a sign that I have a cold, but that my lungs have become inflamed. When this happens, a hearty laugh or a deep breath can send me into a painful coughing spell. Some mornings, I waddle because it is too challenging to try to move my ankles. There also are times when my face actually hurts, and for a person who smiles a lot, that’s an interesting challenge.

I don’t usually share all of the pains and discomforts I experience, and I am only sharing them now because of a compliment I received.  Recently, I ran into a woman who I had spent only a brief time with and she started following me on social media. She was facing difficulties in her life and said to me, “I wish I could be naturally happy and upbeat like you.” I almost broke into a full belly-laugh at her assessment of what she sees in me.

Lupus is a tough disease. I could write out a ton of symptoms that I experience pretty much on a daily basis, and the list would be much longer than what I shared at the start of this column. In spite of the aches, pains, tears, emotional rollercoaster and so much more I deal with, I decide each morning to be happy. I explained to her that I am not naturally happy and upbeat. I let her know that I am constantly counting blessings, looking for reasons to smile and trying my best not to be Debbie Downer, but some days certainly are more difficult than others.

I always have done my best to find the good in even the worst situations. When I was diagnosed with lupus, this way of thinking and living was truly challenged. There have been times when I have been in so much pain that even a trip to the hospital and a mixed dose of vicodin and morphine didn’t take the edge off. (Nurses would fall in love with me because I still would find a way to make them smile as I battled through the pain.)

The benefit of my pursuit of happiness is that my life is more joyful. But sadly, people see me powering through and assume I am “naturally upbeat” when it’s a continuously difficult battle.

It is hard to find joy when your body is wracked with pain. Your emotional state is in constant upheaval with all the potential issues caused by lupus, and your financial situation is up in the air because of all of the medical costs associated with battling a never-ending disease. To find a smile, a kind word and offer others encouragement through all of that is not so easy.

However, I do my best to find happiness not only for myself, but to bring a little joy to those I encounter.

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Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.

7 comments

  1. Colleen Souders says:

    This is perfect timing since I went to the Dr today because of chest pain I first thought was
    pleurisy but the symptoms did not fit.
    chest xray & EKG OK so the Dr thinks it’s inflammatory bronchitis from Lupus. Steroids again. I had been doing so good then…

  2. Felisha Bobe says:

    I have a mild case of Lupus and find some days very challenging. Newly diagnosed after having been admitted to hospital for multiple PE’s then dealing with the ups and down of the new meds I must take, seems so overwhelming at times. You have encouraged me to count my blessings. We can choose not to let our circumstances get in the way of our peace and Joy.

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Felisha, I hope for things to remain mild for you. When you are diagnosed with something where stress is a trigger, you have to learn to count your blessings, not sweat the small stuff and find joy in things going well. I do believe our attitude towards the crap that life brings us can also help us or hurt us. Thanks for reading and commenting, I look forward to hearing more from you 🙂

  3. Nessa Ré says:

    Just the column I needed to come across! Thank You 🙏🏻. When everyday is a fight and you literally feel hostage to your own body…those words you took the time to express lit a fickle flame. 😊

    I read this and found it promising, encouraging, and motivating- although that part seems to be more of a wish than an actual drive.

    Currently, I’m battling some very weak/depressive states; desire to be physically and mentally healthy almost seems unreachable. Struggling to accept the visible changes that not only I notice dramatically but also others make me turn green with envy towards those who don’t have a chronic illness. I know, I know I have to maintain the mindset of “mind over matter”, but what do I do when my mind is already in the matter? What do I do when the trivial things are become rocket science test question? What do I do when I no longer know who I am?

    For me, before being diagnosed, I was a naturally energetic and positive person. I can remember overcoming stressful situations with ease; never comprehending the meaning of what it felt like to be stressed. Loved to be challenged and knew no stranger. Anxiety, depression and isolation were disorders I read about, praying I’d never have to know what it felt like. When I could spend my summer days basking no worries to a weak long flare up that left me immobile for a week. When 6 hours of sleep after a night out was refreshing. Meeting up with friends and family wasn’t something I had to plan weeks ahead of time because spontaneous endeavors don’t exist when you aren’t sure if you’ll be able to climb out of bed.

    I miss everything about who I was. The outgoing, can do, will do attitude.

    After being diagnosed in 2011, multiple complications, losing the ability to stay sane, or capacity to have even a normal work ethic. How can I be self sufficient when I don’t feel dependable? How can I feel important when loved ones assume, “she’s sick” or “she’s always sad”- so why reach out. That’s where I’m at right nowadays. With many factors hindering me from achieving my goal to envelop a lifestyle benefitical of aligned healthiness, I sometimes catch myself exaggerating my symptoms because I just don’t have the vigor to face the day. Of course making everything worsen giving me a sense that I loss of control. I’m not going to lie, this laziness is what will be my demise, leading me to believe that this is just the sorry cards I was dealt and I’m going to be miserable FOREVER. I could probably eventually get to the place where I’ll accept this to be true…then what use will I be serving? Not one.

    I LOVE LIFE!! I LOVE EVERYTHING that living entails. And you have reminded me of that quality in myself that I have neglected. Again thanks you. Here’s to being me! ✌🏽

    • Kellie McRae says:

      Hi Nessa, I read your response with so much recognition! I know those feelings, they are tough and we have to do our best to stand when they are doing their best to knock us down. I know it’s not easy, people look at us and think we have more control than we do. I am happy that this article spoke to you and I want you to remember that you are still here, you may not be the same person you were before but your job now is to learn about the new you and embrace her because if anyone needs a big embrace, its our new person. So much uncertainty and we’ve been familiar with the people we were but the people we ARE really needs some love. If you’re like me, you don’t even know her, she’s annoying and we want her to go away but she’s here to stay. I try to find as much happiness as I can in the moments when I can spend time with others and that in turn helps them have more compassion. I am sending positive vibes your way lady, you are not going to be miserable forever. One day at a time, one day at a time look at the small blessings.

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