Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Dying: My Life with Chronic Illness Part 3

This post has been the most difficult of the three I’ve written on this subject and it will be the final one. It was suggested to me by someone that tell my readers a little more about myself. Greatly valuing this someone’s opinion, I’ve done just that. Who knows, maybe in some small way these posts will help someone who’s just beginning their journey with chronic illness. But probably not. The previous two posts were very abridged and vague overviews of how I got here, and, quite frankly, they’re not very engaging. I consider myself a passing fair novelist, and the better part of my book reviews serve to prop that belief up, but I’m a terrible blogger. I don’t really understand why. It’s not that I haven’t tried…or, maybe I haven’t really tried that hard. Maybe my heart just isn’t in it. I find that telling stories about people who’ve never existed is a lot easier (and more enjoyable) than talking about myself and my life. Especially laying myself bare, complete with weaknesses and insecurities.

Anyway, so where is here? For me it’s a constant state of ups and downs and uncertainty. It’s hard for me to plan anything very far in advance because I never know how I’m going to feel on any given day. My baseline is tolerable, almost like living every day with a mild to moderate flu bug. I’ve learned to accept it, and can mostly enjoy my life and my loved ones. My downs however, can be pretty damn low. I’m in one now. I have been for several weeks. These are the times that life gets especially difficult for me. I think one of the problems for me and for many who suffer from chronic illness or a permanent disability, is not only the affliction itself, but the isolation and loneliness you can feel, even if you are well loved. And I am very well loved. Unfortunately being loved can’t change the fact that there is always a small part of me that feels alone in the world. It makes sense I suppose. After all, how can anyone truly understand what it’s like to walk in the shoes of someone who is sick every day of their life? I get depressed when my illness is in full bloom. I often feel like I’m a letdown to people I care about. Especially when I have to postpone plans I’ve made: date night with my girlfriend, lunch with my dad or my (adult) kids. It makes me feel insecure in my relationships, even though I know the thought is irrational. Sometimes I have flashes of jealousy toward the non-ill, even toward people who are close to me. Not openly, but to myself. It’s a tough thing to admit, but there it is. So I fight with depression—and I mean fight. I do everything I can to beat it, and more times than not I succeed, but it takes a lot of effort. Occasionally I simply can’t. Self-pity slinks in. I ask myself what I did to deserve this, etc…and I have to keep fighting and ride it all out until I get feeling better. I distract myself with my writing (like I’m doing now) or I read or watch films. Times like this are the hardest on my family because it’s really tough for me not to be withdrawn to some extent.

So I keep plugging away. I’m grateful for all I do have and I’m always looking forward to the times when I’m at my baseline. Hopefully I’ll be back there soon. I have some remodel projects I need to finish. I’ll get them done. It will take me fifty times as long as it should, but I’ll get them done.

Get busy living, or get busy dying.

This is my mantra (thank you Mr. King). Sometimes I don’t know where I’d be without it.

Becky, Dad, Cheyenne, Casady, Chelcy, William, Sarah, Wayne, and John, thank you for your constant support. I really don’t know where I’d be without all of you.



  1. Mischenko

    This totally resonated with me, Michael, and your posts on chronic illness are very engaging. You summed it up perfectly.

    I feel like letting others down is one of the hardest parts of living with chronic illness, but sometimes you just can’t do things and it’s just part of taking care of yourself and doing what has to be done to cope. You have to pat yourself on the back for your strength and for pulling through. Keep fighting, don’t give up, and you’ll never lose!

    Knowing that you have loving support is wonderful, but I understand that it doesn’t take away the pain and struggle. I’m sorry you’re in a rough patch and hope it doesn’t last long. I’ll keep you in my prayers. Thank you so much for sharing this. <3

    1. michaelamclellan Post

      Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate your thoughts on this, especially knowing that you have similar struggles of your own.

  2. Anthony Jones

    Hey Michael, I was not aware of your illness. Alas, your words command pause, and for those who are not suffering, to take inventory of their blessings. Prayers to you my friend. We all say, “Let me know if I can do anything,” knowing full well you would never ask. Perhaps we say such to make our self feel better. But I am compelled. For what it’s worth, I remain at your service my friend. Never stop writing!!!

    1. michaelamclellan Post

      Thanks for the good words, Anthony. I know they come from the heart. As far as my illness, it’s just something I was reluctant to talk about for a long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.