I don’t completely agree with this quote but it does bring up a very important facet of human existence that is vital when we are chronically ill. We are meaning-making machines. We need to create meaning. About the world, our place in it, our purpose and ourselves. Without it, the starkness of being is in fact very grim indeed. We flounder without meaning.
And that is exactly what happens when we are first diagnosed or when we make major compromises like stopping working due to chronic illness. We want to know what it all means. We want to know how it affects our lives. What our lives will mean. What our purpose will be. Our self-worth can be affected because the meaning we had ascribe to who we were can dramatically shift and we no longer know who we are. What tends to happen is we feel non-productive, non-functional, useless and have no purpose…. a stark state of being because we lost our sense of meaning.
We need to recreate it all over again. With a new sense of purpose. A new sense of self-identity. A new concept of what it is like to be in the world with a chronic illness. And we may have to rebuild this sense of self more than once because life with chronic illness can affect this sense of meaning more than once as we adapt to changes.
It is an important process to go through and no two people will travel the same road doing it. We all find different ways to redefine ourselves. New self-identities and repair our self-worth. New ways to fill the voids in our life to give it purpose. All I know is that it is an important and fundamental experience we must all go through. And I also know that I have done so a few times with major life changes due to my illness.