As most people know, I have epilepsy. Fortunately it is not severe, and it has been under control for several years with the right blend of medications and avoidance techniques. That being said, there are still a host of side effects like dizziness, tremors, and headaches that I have to manage, several things I need to avoid, and the ever-present fear that at any given moment, that control might break and I could have another seizure. It's a manageable life, but it takes a physical toll, as well as a mental one. Life indeed gave me lemons in this case.
Here's my suggestion: Write about them.
Sounds like a cheap answer, doesn't it? Maybe something used as an excuse to fit this in a writing blog. I will tell you otherwise. Writing is more than a tool of creation, it is a tool of understanding, of processing our circumstances and gaining a deeper knowledge of a situation. In that regard, as we start to see more dimension to our chronic condition, we start to understand it on a deeper level, and it becomes less sinister. We start to see it for what it is versus what we fear it is.
When I was first diagnosed with epilepsy, my neurologist recommended I keep a diary of my seizures so we could better understand what we were up against. I did, and it seemed useless at first. My heart wasn't in it. Entries would look like, "January 8, 7:40 am: Seizure in hallway. Fell, hit doorknob. Lump on my head." Pretty basic, right? Clinical and boring. But like any writing, once I explored it, it revealed things to me. The more I tried to describe them versus just saying what happened, the more I understood. "Seizure started at the office. Right side went numb, like limbs detached from my mind. Couldn't speak; every word just a drooling grunt. Tried to get up, lost my balance immediately and fell out of my chair. Head hit doorknob." It might not seem like it, but inside I now felt like I had some control over the narrative. And of course, as I tried to write about something as confusing and abstract as the feeling of my brain malfunctioning, I gained a few new writing tools. Eventually, I moved my seizure discussions into personal character sketches and write-ups.
This is a great tool for coping with a lot of conditions. Many people I know who fight depression keep or have kept a journal to document the war of moods within themselves, and I have seen the writing process help people battling alcoholism and drug addiction by bringing their deeper problems into the light. I do not preach writing as a cure-all by any means, but rather as a very helpful instrument for working with very difficult situations. And if it's any help, you will soon discover just how many famous writers built up their writing chops by processing their innermost demons.