Gently, almost lovingly, my fingers trace the letters on the keyboard before me. After nearly a month, I see this blank draft staring back, waiting, wistfully perhaps, for the words to appear.

The house is quiet and the soft, pastel shades on the walls soothe my senses as I take a deep breath and weigh each word as it leaves my mind.

We moved into our new home in the first week of February. A couple of days later, I fell ill. After the usual round of doctor visits, scans and blood tests, I was advised heavy medication and bed rest for the next 3 weeks. (I’d rather not discuss the details of my malady, but suffice to know that I am much better and on the road to recovery now).

Illness is a strange thing. It takes the most out of you, rendering you incapable of much except for introspection. I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason.

Here are 7 things I've learned as a result of a severe illness. #LifeLessons Click to Tweet

You are stronger than you know

That sounds trite, but it rang true for me. I’ve been through the wringer this month and there were a couple of days when I had no energy to even sit up in bed. But, I made it and deep down, I know this is due to some hidden reserves of strength that I didn’t even know I possessed. Emotionally, physically, this month was draining but I am grateful to be back on my feet and I thank God for everything, yes, even the illness.

You are not indispensable

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the world cannot function without you. For this, I am ever grateful to my team at work who smoothly stepped in and took over my duties. My boss insisted I rest and Β stay in bed while they handled everything else. So, as much as you are important, remember that you aren’t indispensable. The world can and will carry on without you and that’s absolutely okay.

You can say ‘No’

As a blogger, I’ve received more calls for collaboration with brands this month than I have in the last year. A part of me really wanted to say ‘Yes’ to just about everything, but sanity prevailed and I politely declined or postponed discussions on account of illness. Work is necessary, of course, but not at the expense of health. And get this, people will understand. Even if they don’t, there isn’t anything you can do about it anyway. Put health first. Always.

{Pin this image for later}

Lessons Learned: 7 Life lessons that I learnt from my illness and I hope you can learn from them too. #SelfDevelopment #Awareness (Perceptions and Life Skills)

You can forget

I’ve prided myself on my fairly eidetic memory, perhaps a little too much. So naturally, that had to take a hit. I forgot important dates and even notifications from the kid’s school slipped through the cracks. Being sporadically present on social media meant that I couldn’t remember or wish people on their birthdays/special occasions. Guess what? I survived and so did everyone else. Belated wishes work just as well as timely ones and the kid and her school? Well, she donned the mantle of responsibility admirably. More on that soon.

You should seek and accept help

As much as I thrive on being independent and running a household on my own, being confined to bed does put a crimp on those plans. It was with gratitude that I reached out first to my mother-in-law and then to my mom, who each came over to spend a week and help out. Relinquishing control doesn’t come easily to me but I could lie in bed with an easy mind as they completely handled everything around the house. Did I mention how grateful I am?

You must make time to breathe

People like me, or ‘checklist people’, have one flaw. They can’t rest until everything is ticked off or marked ‘done.’ Try staying under the covers and staring at a blank wall for 3 weeks and notice how quickly that changes. I had ample time on my hands and nothing to do. Well, not quite. I could read, meditate, give thanks to those around me and breathe. I’d forgotten how to tap into that Zen space of joy and re-discovering it gave me much-needed peace.

Plans change

That old adage about the best-laid plans of mice and men resonates strongly in my ears. There’s actually a pun in there too, since day 2 in the new house also saw the appearance of a large, fat, comfortably settled mouse! Talk about unwelcome visitors! Thanks largely to my brave husband and none at all to my shaking form perched on top of the bed, the mouse was escorted safely outdoors.

What I mean is, you can lay all the plans in the world and destiny will do its best to render them all useless. It’s a timely reminder for me not to focus too hard on large, futuristic goals but be ever present in the moment, for this is all we truly have.

Every moment of these last three weeks has been enriching in its own way. At the end, I come away with the understanding that life must be spent in joy, peace and gratitude. Everything else will fall into place at its own pace.


I’ve missed blogging, commenting and all the wonderful engagement that writing has brought my way. If you’re still here, reading this space, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


*Featured pinnable image courtesy: Shutterstock

Linking up with Vidya Sury’s Gratitude Link up for February

49 thoughts on “7 Important Lessons Learned from an Illness

  1. Nothing like being ill to know how much we over estimate ourselves. Also wha all can keep waiting while we do the really important stuff.
    Wisdom shared and hope you are in great helath now πŸ™‚

  2. Shailaja, I will say the same thing I’d said earlier in my comment and that is sometimes slowing down recharges us for the future. Families are a blessing. To a healthier and stronger you πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ€—

  3. Checklist people… That’s so me… I could never stay still and do nothing. But illness has it’s own way to teach us lessons. I am so glad you are better now. You are a strong and determined person, I am sure you would have bounced back like a tiger 😊

  4. Oh I get you on this totally… it took me a while but it’s true. None of us are indispensable even though we don’t want to believe it.
    But If you aren’t well you need to look out for YOU first of all!

  5. I too believe that everything happen for a reason in our life. Great post. Wishing you better health & looking forward to reading more on your blog. πŸ™‚

  6. Hi Shailaja, hope you are well and on the way to recovery now. The good thing that came out it showed how strong and optimistic you are as a person, learning so much. This positive attitude means that half the battle is won.


  7. I really missed you, Shailaja. But happy to see back on action. Great life lessons you have learnt over your illness. My prayers for your speedy recovery. Hope you manage to get more friends at your new location.

  8. Always a pleasure to see you bounce back from whatever keeps you down, Shailaja. And perhaps, that’s your greatest strength – that you’re determined to not be ‘kept down’ for long.
    [PS: Also consider this as my bit for that status you put up last week – about the first thing I think of when I hear your name]

  9. If I may add one more lesson that I have learnt in illness: you never understand the role each body part plays in daily life, till it starts hurting very badly. And when it’s the most dreaded running nose, the only lesson is: never eat ice-cream again πŸ˜›

    The lessons you’ve written are super true, specially the one about people not being indispensable. But lemme make one thing clear: just because someone is not indispensable, it doesn’t mean that people don’t miss his/her personal touch. πŸ˜‰

  10. It is with so much of warmth that I usually read your blog, and it is with the same happy blanket that I’m typing out this comment πŸ™‚
    First up, very happy to know that you’re recovering, whatever the malady was. As you’ve rightly said, it helped you embrace the present as it is – a present !
    Let the mouse run away. She’ll find another place to live πŸ™‚
    And Moms ! What would we do without them !
    Looking forward to more Zen here πŸ™‚

  11. Glad to have you back. The family support system is a blessing. Falling Ill is a sign that one needs to take it slow or else land into deep trouble. The universe works in mysterious ways. Take care…

  12. Glad to know that you are recovering, Shailaja. I was also going through a period of sickness with neck pain. Successfully completed fifth week this Sunday. Thankfully pain is a lot less now. Unlike you I have no lessons to share other than why god why me rant. So I will take your lessons for now. πŸ™‚ Hugs. <3

  13. Welcome back! Hope you’re feeling better now. *Hugs*
    Even illness teaches you things. And it all rang true, you know
    Bury those checklists though. Those things will stress you out!

  14. Hope you are well now, Shailaja!
    An illness is time with self and your reflections are so relevant all the time not just during illness. Thanks for the reminder!

  15. I am a silent follower of your blog. I really admire you and your writings. Hope you are doing well now. Life is unpredictable and anything can happen at anytime. Learning lessons from it is what matters.

  16. It’s good to hear from you. Illness, no matter how small or big it is, sure takes out every nerve inside us. Glad to hear, you’re recovering well. These lessons are just perfect and now we can have more from you πŸ™‚

    Take care πŸ™‚


  17. Hope you are feeling better, Shailaja. I missed your posts, honestly πŸ™‚
    You make some pertinent observations here.
    The past two months haven’t been good in terms of health for M and myself reminding me that if I have to take care of M , I need to stop neglecting my health. Though, I haven’t started doing anything about it. Your post just reminded me to do something about it again.
    Take care.

    1. Sorry to hear you’ve been ill too, Naba. It’s pretty draining especially when you must manage on your own. Do take care and thank you for all the love. This is what keeps me going. Truly.

    1. You’re absolutely right. My dad also says that the hardest of lessons are learnt through adversity and trials and we must welcome them. I’ve realised how true that rang for me this month. Thank you for the good vibes and I pray that you are in good health as well, dear Sanch πŸ™‚

  18. Welcome back, Shailaja. Every adversity in life tests us and makes us stronger. Happy to have you blogging again. So many wonderful things we realize about family and friends and have to be grateful for. Wish you a healthy and happy March. Let’s meet soon. Lots of love.

    1. Thank you so much, Rachna, for just about everything. Happy to be back to blogging, for sure. Yes, let’s meet as soon as the kids are done with their exams πŸ™‚

  19. To tell you the truth, I missed your Twitter and Facebook updates and especially the updates on walking. They served as encouragement for me. Illnesses, for most of us, would mean ‘what a rough time we had’ but actually illnesses are worth being grateful for because they occur to teach us a few lessons and put us back on our tracks with humility. It feels glad to know you are feeling much better now.

    1. You’re at least the fifth person to tell me that you missed my updates and I cannot tell you how heartwarming that feels. Thank you so much, Anamika. I’ll still take time to get back to walking, of course but I intend to do it very soon and very regularly as well. Thanks for all the wonderful, warm love always. πŸ™‚

  20. More power to you Shailaja! Glad you are feeling better. It’s quite an incredible thing how we are able to count our blessings when the toughest of storms hover over our heads. I’ve had a similar experience so your words really resonate. Take good care and keep that ink flowing.

  21. Sooo happy to see you back here.. and of course I should have expected you to inject humor into a serious list .. oh that mouse! You are strong, and I’m sure you’ll emerge even stronger on the other side of this. Lots and lots of good wishes and vibes for you to be completely back to your usual energetic self soon <3.

  22. My dear Shailaja, While I wish that the reason for your slowing down could have been nicer, it is nevertheless wonderful to see that you embraced what you had to do and did it. I am very glad you are feeling better. Every lesson listed by you is 100% true, as I have come to realize over the years, and I daresay I’ve shared them a number of times on my own blog. I felt it liberating to read your post with a rather complacent feeling of been-there-done-that. Truly, nothing takes priority over health, family and friends. Hugs to you. I am so very happy you chose to put your virtual pen on paper with a post linking up to this month’s Gratitude Circle. Being grateful transforms our world-view. Love you.

  23. Glad you are fit and raring to blog again! And I completely believe in the fact that No one in this world is indispensable.The sooner we realize this reality the faster we are at ease with the happenings around us.
    Take care ma’am…Hugs to you !

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