My Reasons to Keep Living When It Hurts to Live

By Abigail HoffmanJuly 3, 2023

Some days it hurts just to breathe. My chest tightens. I inhale. I exhale. It hurts. The thumping of my heart in my chest reminds me I am still alive, but also that this life is still hard and still hurts.

When I wake up each morning, I am reminded of the chronic illness I face.

I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease when I was seventeen years old. From late-night visits to the ER to surprise allergic reactions to medication—nothing about adjusting to my autoimmune disease was easy. As most of my peers looked forward to college, I wondered if I would even be able to go at all. Now, five years later, my thyroid problems still influence how I live every day.

While I take medications for management, the symptoms have never balanced. Doctor visits, food restrictions, and physical limitations define my normal life. My chronic illness affects my mind as well as my body. I remember the first time I googled Graves’ disease alongside the words “depression” and “anxiety.” I wanted answers—and I found them. Mental challenges are common with health issues, especially thyroid problems. It permeates my thoughts. The questions build in my mind…

Will I have energy today?
What if I can’t complete my tasks?
Will I be able to eat?
Will the food I eat make my stomach hurt?
Will my heart rate be high? Or will it be low?
Are my hands going to shake?
Will my legs feel weak?
Will I be able to keep it together?
Or will I cry in a bathroom stall?
Will I be stressed?
Will I be anxious?
Will I be depressed?

And the worst of them all…

Will I feel like giving up?

I’ve had my chronic illness for over four years now, but I’ve struggled with my mental health well before that. And yet, I am always surprised when suicidal thoughts hit. The exhaustion increases my suicidal thoughts. Not knowing if there will be an end to the abrupt highs and lows is exhausting. Trying to keep up with meeting my next health need is exhausting. Being the only one who fully understands my situation is exhausting. Within the exhaustion, my mind wanders.

If nothing is going to change, wouldn’t it be easier to end it all?
Your health struggles are a burden on others—don’t you want to relieve that from them?
This pain is going to last forever, so why not just give up now? 

I always know deep down they are lies, but sometimes they are easier to believe.

The greatest mistake I make is trying to ignore that they are there—because depression exists even if you try to pretend it away. I am learning that acceptance is a part of healing. I need to be aware of my struggles to help myself. And in my lowest of lows, I need to give myself the grace to move forward as slowly as I need to.

My health is up and down and never the same. It’s both a blessing and a curse. The good days feel like sunshine, but the hard days feel like nothing will ever be all right again. I try to shine a light on the darkest parts. The days when I swim in a pool of my own tears. The days when it’s hard to get out of bed. Hard to shower. Hard to walk. Hard to exist in this body and in this head.

This little bit of light takes on many forms. I often go back to my faith—a consistent hope throughout my struggle.

My light also shows up as reasons. My reasons to keep living. I write them down. I tape them to my wall. I read them aloud. I let their joy exist in my sadness.

I keep going because I want to…

Wake up to a new morning
Dance with my sister in the kitchen
Hug my friends
Skateboard on a trail in the summer
Walk across the stage at graduation to get my diploma
Pet a kitten
Feel the warmth of the sun on my skin
Eat my favorite dish cooked by my mom
Talk about my faith with others
Let my life be an example of hope
Play the cello
Sip a latte at a coffee shop
Stargaze outside on a warm night 

These are some of my reasons.

The pressure of my pain hurts, but it cannot take away the steps I take each day. I will keep going. I will keep moving. I will keep hoping.

What are some of your reasons?

You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].

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Comments (12)

  1. Krista

    Love this. I also have Graves’ disease and another autoimmune disease. Your words really resonated with me. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply  |  
  2. Zoe

    When I think of the reasons in winter isolated still trying to understand why my brother and dad chose to leave why weren’t me or my daughters enough

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA


      We are so sorry for your loss. We wish your brother and dad had stayed. But please know that you are your daughters are enough regardless of external forces.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  3. Autumn

    I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was three years old. I’ve taken injections on and off since then, and I’ve dealt with varying levels of activity throughout my life.
    It got really bad around the time I started high school. I’ve seen a physical therapist, given up the flute, and upped my meds.
    There have been a lot of points where arthritis feels like too much to live with, especially because it’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
    I know other people feel this way, so overwhelmed by chronic illness that they don’t know how to keep living with it, but I don’t hear people talk about it. Thank you for this!

    Through everything, I’ve stayed for my parents and my brother. I’ve stayed for my dog and my neighbors. I’ve stayed for my grandma, who goes out of her way to remind me how much I’m loved. And I stay for all the music I still want to listen to, and for all the trips I want to take.

    Reply  |  
  4. ramon anthony

    what a lovely article man! this was so inspiring yeah we live another day to face a new morning man. keep it up! Hey guys thought share this therapy with animals it may help specially those with chronic illnesses check it out:

    [Somatic Equine therapy and Coaching](

    Reply  |  
  5. Emmy

    I also struggle with mental illness and a chronic/”invisible” illness. It is so hard to navigate the world and advocate for yourself when you are so mentally drained while dealing with pain as well. I keep going because I know this ugly situation I’ve been coping with will ultimately lead me to something beautiful. I keep going because I know my struggle can be purposeful to others and I feel motivated to serve that purpose. Thank you for letting people know they are worthy and never alone. I hope you know you are too 💕

    Reply  |  
  6. Heather

    I understand this oh so well.Im so sorry you have to go thru chronic illness as well.Its so difficult.But I’m still trying and I keep going for my adopted daughter and my husband.So many loved ones have died two back to back in one month while I was having my vpshubt revised for over the 14th time which means brain surgery over 14 times .Lost count after 14 and I started my chronic illness or found out about it in 2014 and quickley searched for treatment sadley there is no cure and only 3 meds to treat it and non helped so spinal tap to relieve the pressure so I didnt go blind while waiting on batiactric surgery because they said 263lbs caused my condition I got the surgery which in a year I was 125lbs ( lost weight way to fast).All my systems of sever headaches 😩 never went away I still have vision loss that is permanent tried to fix the side vision with glasses and it made me dizzy and nauseous.So $300 down the drain on magically glasses that were suppost to help.I did find a neurosurgeon who listened and understood she is my only hope at some kinda life even if it’s just a short time and then more surgery is needed.Im constantly in pain still but our adopted daughter was exposed to drugs in the womb we had her since birth and adopted her when she was 2yrs old best day of my husband’s and I life other then when we met and got married and also when we met our daughter for the first time.So I keep going thru painful surgerys for them I keep fighting to live and to see so I can watch her grow up and have her know she is loved beyond words even though she is 4yrs old now and her words hurt but she doesbt understand when she wants a new home because we won’t give her a toy at walmart.She is so loved and has soooo many toys ❤️ she just doesn’t see them all there in her closet that’s locked or she would make a mess with the puzzels and she has pica so she eats her books, she also has gastroparesis gastric mobility issues she vomits everyday has sever acid reflex and we found ulcers in her small bowel so she is on a high dose of nexium but she doesn’t want to eat by mouth gets all her nutrition theu her gtube which we call her tubie or her button.Shes a smart girl and can be so sweet but also so mean at the same time. BUT there the reasons I fight now .I used to have my sister named in the reason I fight but she died unexpectedly June 8th 2023 she was my person my everything 💔 I struggle even more knowing I dont have her to help me fight even more I keep saying I wanna be with her and I know life is unfair but she was healthy it shouldn’t have been her I think everyday and I work with my cobselor and phyatrist but so far no one has changed my mind or helped me fix that way of thinking other then saying ur husband and daughter need you.But my sister helped when my husband couldbt or when riley was worrying me or saying mean rude things that I know she didn’t mean but I was still hurt and my sister was there She has always been there for me growing up thru my dad’s abuse when mom worked she kept us quiet and nostley hidden so we didn’t get introuble for making to much noise we were kids and my dad was a full blown abusive alcoholic my sister had to grow up way to fast to a mom figure she never got to be a kid .Which I hated so much for her.But now I morn her theu a hello kitty build a bear that has her actual heartbeat in it which she donated along side every organ she had a lot of peopkes hearts can’t be donated .But my sister was healthy so whomever got her heart I hope they know it was a loving heart a careing heart and I hope it went to someone worthy of the love that still flowed thru it ♥️I miss her all the time and I cry randomly I guess that is grief in a nutshell. She has two children ones 12 and the other is 8 and the 8 yr old couldbt celebrate his birthday due to his mother dieing the day before.I have so much pain it isn’t only physical but emotional 😢 😔 Life is so freakin hard and all I’m trying to do is get thru 1 day at a time somtimes a couple hours at a time on the bad pain days and emotional pain days .Opiods for pain don’t work much anymore ive thought of going to an alternative bit idk how that will work or even know how to smoke pot for medical pain relief which I rather try edibles but idk if I wanna spend the money if it makes my anxiety worse or cause me to be paranoid Aby advise on anything I’ve said even medical pot and ir experiance I would gladley appricate it Thank u for reading this ” book” as my sister would say Grief is so hard also when I said two people died my grandpa was 90years old with deminita when he died a month before my sister but he was suffering thru dementia he just sat there staring didn’t know anyone sadley .So he needed to be with grandma and my mom and now my sister and his sick animals and the 2 babies I lost he is with now and I can feel hes at ease unlike when he was alive. My sister i feel isnt at peace yet and I hope it isn’t because of me.My story is much longer but here is the most recent parts and I forgot my chronic condition is called IIH OR IDIOPATHIC INTERCRANIAL HYPERTENTION NEUROPATHY FROM BRAIN MATTER BEING SUCKED INTO MY SHUNT TUBING IN MY BRAIN AND IVE ALSO HAD A BRAIN BLEED AND I HAVE A CLOTTING CONDITION FACTOR 5 LIDEN.Today has been a hard day due to pain and sadness and our daughter is not having a good day either or night she kept screaming because of night terrors most of the night .

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Thank you for sharing, Heather. We are moved by your honesty and vulnerability, and we do hope that amidst the heavy you are able to find moments of peace. You deserve to know healing and to experience days of relief.

      Reply  |  
  7. Shawn

    On my goodness. . . .
    Abagail Hoffman keep writing your thoughts for yourself and others. . . your words are powerful. Your energy is powerful. I pray for your strength, strength to stay focused and in control of your brilliant mind. . your brilliance.
    SO MANY HUGS to you.

    Reply  |  
  8. Rebecca

    My reason for living is because just for today, I want to live. I want to see what tomorrow will bring. I want to be alive because my dog needs me, just as much as I need her. I want to be alive because I still have one more story to tell. I want to live because so many of my friends are no longer alive- whether it was because they did not want to live or because addiction took their life away from them. I want to live because death doesn’t seem so far away now anyways.

    Reply  |  
  9. Billie jo

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting this out there. I I had Graves‘ disease and now hoshimitos they removed my thyroid with radiation and I also lost my spleen. Thank you

    Reply  |  
  10. Lauren Abercrombie

    I keep going for my Dad
    I also keep going because I always love when I make it to my anniversary of being a vegetarian, I am 8 years in now.

    Reply  |  
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