CF Is in My Lungs and I'm Trying to Keep It Out of My Head

I've learned that what I tell myself about how cystic fibrosis affects me, affects my belief in what I can achieve, and how I feel about myself as a person.

| 4 min read
Bobby Foster

Storytelling. We see it. We hear it. We live it.

We're drawn to stories, whether we get them from a book, a movie, a blog, our social media feeds, or gossip from our friends. Stories are what make our lives work. Stories are the way we pass information along with emotional attachment.

So what stories are you telling yourself?

When it comes to having cystic fibrosis, the daily story I used to tell myself were those of condemnation, worry, and judgment.

“You're too sick to do that.”

“If I didn't have CF, my life would we be so much better.”

“If I decide to do that, will I be too sick? Will I even be able to finish it?”

The narrative I had painted of myself because of my CF was vile. I brought myself down second after second because I never felt good enough about my life, and I blamed it on CF. It was an easy out. Now, don't get me wrong; there definitely are things CF keeps me from doing from time to time. But, the story of CF completely stopping me from doing what I wanted to do ... I was creating that.

There definitely were times where I could've done more and held back because I blamed it on CF -- because of the story I was telling myself. I also discovered that what I was telling myself also affected how I viewed myself as a person.

“I'm no good because of my CF.”

That constant assertion happened in my head for years and years. When I set on my path to grow as a person, I accidentally stumbled onto a way to change the story.

Little by little, I grew to understand my life with CF. I began to realize that the old narrative of not being good enough would show up when I was experiencing symptoms. When my symptoms died down a bit, and I was feeling healthier, the narrative would become more positive.

When I was healthy, I would tell myself things like, “I can beat this.”

“I am more than my CF.”

“I can love myself, even with CF.”

This alternating pattern continued. Feeling positively or negatively about myself depended on how I felt. As time passed, I learned that how I felt about my CF could empower me or paralyze me. But, it wasn't based on my symptoms; it was based on the story I told myself.

I realized that even when I was feeling terribly sick, if the story I told myself didn't reflect that, I didn't feel as bad. If I was sick, but I told myself positive stories, then I continued living my life despite my symptoms.

The same thing would happen when I felt good. If I told myself negative stories, I noticed my symptoms would be more severe.

The stories I tell myself affect the outcome of my life. I will always have symptoms when it comes to CF, but if I shift the stories I'm telling myself, I can bring myself healing. I can learn to thrive whether I'm having symptoms or not and be proactive about not setting myself up mentally to activate flare-ups.

In society, stories run through the news, marketing, entertainment, and other outlets that then convince us to buy this or buy that. Stories are used every day to manipulate me to adopt another person's agenda. I've decided not to be my own worst enemy by planting a story in my own mind that manipulates me into sickness.

I pay attention to the narratives I conjure up. I ask myself, “Will you empower yourself, or will you paralyze yourself?” It's my choice.

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This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Bobby is a content creator, a rapper/producer, and a certified life coach who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth. He graduated with a degree in creative writing from the University of Central Florida. Bobby is currently on a path to bring awareness and change through music. You can find Bobby on his website, Bobby Foster Speaks.

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