My name is Jessica Kendall James, and I am so glad you took the time to check out my little corner of the Internet today. I am a 24-year old living, loving, and learning on the beautiful beaches of Orange County with a wonderful community of inspiring friends and family surrounding me. I also happen to be born with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – and a dozen other underlying diseases and conditions that tend to come with it. And if I had a dime for every time someone told me I was too young to be this sick, I’d probably be living on a yacht instead of in a little Newport Beach apartment. But you know what? I’m not too young to be this sick, because I am this sick. And that’s okay. Sometimes I pray, sometimes I cry, and sometimes I even scream into a pillow about it, but I’m finally learning to accept that this is my life, and it’s time to make the most of it. I spent far too many years searching for a diagnosis for my “mystery diseases,” and simply trying to survive from one doctor’s appointment to the next. This year I decided I am done surviving. It is time for me to live, to claim my life for myself again.
And so Our New Healthy began with an idea. The idea that maybe I wasn’t just forever “sick.” Maybe I could be healthy — a new kind of healthy no doubt, but still my healthiest life. A chronic illness cannot define us, and it doesn’t even have to limit us. Sure, it may change us, and even force us to find new ways to do the things we love and to be the people we want to be. But, if we take the time to put in a little extra work each day, one day at a time, towards making our bodies as healthy as possible and utilizing new tools and tricks for achieving our goals, we can move beyond just surviving to actually living. Living a beautiful, healthy, joyful life despite, and even because of, the things we have learned from having a chronic illness.
By knowing your body and its needs, taking a little extra time to most efficiently balance out your healthcare with the rest of your activities each day, and learning all the tricks to making this balancing act as quick and easy as possible, maybe each of us can become the ringmaster of our own little healthcare circus, the producer of our own beautiful life plan. Those of us living with chronic illnesses don’t need to accept a “sick,” or lesser quality of life. We don’t need to miss out on the adventures we see our friends and peers taking in their own lives. We can travel the world, achieve our dreams, and discover more about ourselves along the way. We just need to do it all a little differently, in our own new ways. I am determined to redefine healthy. To redefine what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. Because a healthy, happy lifestyle is something everyone, no matter what their challenges, can, and does, deserve to achieve.
Our new healthy transcends the illnesses we face to the beautiful lives we live. On the road to our new healthy, we are finding our new definition of fitness and exercise no matter what or how severe our obstacles and limitations might be; discovering what our new beautiful truly means far beyond our physical changes and challenges, and learning how we can enjoy the art of make-up and the fun of skincare (a personal passion of mine) without sacrificing our immediate or long-term skincare and healthcare; tackling our new “on-the-go” lifestyle by finding ways around obstacles that make it more challenging for us to go out and experience new places and things; and even achieving our new happiness despite the unique emotional trials and mental health issues that can come with chronic illness. As we embark on the journey towards our new heathy, we will hit road blocks and discover new challenges that may even define and redefine our new healthy many times, but together we can continue to discover more and more about our bodies and ourselves and experience and achieve wonderful things.
Finding a new, healthy lifestyle after a chronic illness diagnosis won’t be easy. It takes commitment, dedication, and sometimes even a few good flare-ups, set-backs, and tears before we pick ourselves up and try again. But let’s have each other to share in the burden of our struggles and cheer each other on in our new journeys, to share the tips and tricks that we discover which aid us or just plain excite us. I invite you to come with me on this journey towards finding my best happy, healthy life. After all, when “I” is replaced with “We,” even illness becomes wellness. And by that I mean the journey is always better together! I look forward to chatting with, and learning from all of you on the journey towards Our New Healthy.
With great love,