You remember the person you were before your life was turned upside down by illness or by your child’s serious health concerns. Things seemed so much easier back then, when you weren’t limited by the realities of managing a daily life of tests and procedures and treatments and the complex maintenance of the human body. Maybe you’ve wondered when you will be able to finally get back to being that person you were.

On the other hand, many people in the serious illness community talk about the pressure they feel from friends, family and coworkers to return to “life as normal” – to go back to being that fun friend, or available family member, or driven employee. Maybe you’re not ready to be that person again.

The thing is, illness changes us. Even if you find a time in your future when the minute-to-minute crisis of managing an illness recedes into the background, confronting serious health challenges – your own or in someone you love – can’t help but shift your way of being in the world. You may find a time when you can start going to yoga class in the evenings again, or reconnect with that hobby you had to put on the back burner, but the person returning to those things you used to love can never be exactly the same.

Again, this isn’t saying that you will never be a fun person again, or that illness has somehow taken away your ability to be spontaneous or to have space in your life to be a good friend. But the fact is that the person who returns to these aspects of the life you remember will be different than the person you were back then.

The answer to “when will you get back to being you?” is that you will never again be exactly the person you were before being touched by illness. And the real question becomes “Who will you become now?”

When you are ready, you will wake from the forced hibernation of managing illness. When you are ready, you will reemerge into the world. When you are ready, you will spread your wings and look at yourself in the mirror and start to discover what you see.

When will this transformation occur? It will happen when you are ready.

Garth Sundem
Garth Sundem is a parent, husband, GeekDad and author of books including "Real Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change". Find him at
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