The majority of us put on a happy face for the rest of the world. That being said it’s not uncommon to come across an individual with a chronic illness and not be able to tell. You see the truth is most of us with chronic illnesses probably pretend to be happier than those of us that are healthy. I can’t speak for everyone but I know that I’d rather have people look at me and think I look fine than feel any kind of pity towards me.
I’ve of course explained to friends and family what life is like with a chronic illness. I’ve realized however that it’s not really an easy thing to explain. It seems no matter how many times I repeat the issues I have and the reasons why I don’t feel well some people just don’t fully grasp it. I suppose it’s more difficult to understand what someone is going through when you’ve never experienced it yourself.
I’ve had a lot of experiences that have given me immense amounts of anxiety when it comes to my health. As if it isn’t hard enough going to appointment after appointment and re-explaining my symptoms, I also have to repeat it to my loved ones and even myself. I face a daily battle with my body and I truly never know how I will feel until the day comes. With that being said it makes it very difficult to have any kind of a social life. I often cancel plans or avoid making them if I feel a certain situation may set me up to feel sick. Working has become impossible, simple things I used to be able to do are now simply things I cannot do. Exercising is difficult, anything that causes exhaustion makes me sick, I’ve tried dozens of medications and I’ve had so many tests. I’ve lost things and people I never thought I would. It’s strange what being sick does to you.
It truly makes you grow up. Ive faces obstacles I had hoped I’d never face in my life and I am only 27. There have been many times where I have felt I’ve wanted to give up. Times where I’ve felt hopeless and unsure of what future, if any, God could possibly have planned for me. I have found myself questioning things that I’ve thought I’ve always wanted. Having children terrifies me now. Not because I don’t want kids but because I can’t bare the thought of passing along any of my health issues on to an innocent baby. When you’re sick it makes you realize how much life you’ve missed out on or might have to miss out on.
Passing along my health issues isn’t the only concern I have either. Being sick is a burden to those that you love. Whether we want to admit it or not the stress it causes is detrimental not only for us but also for those that we love. I often feel guilty for being unable to do things or feeling like I’m holding people back. The thing is, it’s just really so incredibly hard to know how you are going to feel. Chronic illnesses do not come with a handbook or a schedule. Flare ups come and go randomly and some days I will feel great while other days I feel as though I’ve been hit by a Mack truck.
The good days aren’t like other people’s good days. I still feel crappy but I feel well enough to push past the discomfort and try to make the best out of a bad situation. To be honest I don’t think I can remember the last day I didn’t feel any pain or discomfort. It always seems as though if it’s not one thing it’s another. My stomach may feel fine but my body will be killing me or perhaps both my body and stomach are doing well then it just so happens I get a migraine. It sounds like I’m complaining. In many ways I suppose I am. But in all honestly I’ve accepted that tho is who I am. The hard thing is feeling like things are getting worse. The hard part is feeling like I’ve lost complete control. The unknown is something we all struggle with, but when you have a chronic illness you’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. The anxiety from the chronic illness builds and suddenly you’re terrified that any day something else with your body could be wrong.
I always thought I would eventually start to get better. Doctors had told me that in the past so why would I question their word? It turned out that I was one of the unlucky few that got worse as time went on. I can’t say I was surprised when I got the news. I knew that I had been feeling worse but to be honest I never thought that things would have gotten to the point that they are at now. The one thing that has helped me to get through all of this is positivity. Whether I am having the worst day or the best day I try to pretend like everything I’m feeling is what everyone is feeling too.
You see when you have a chronic illness all you want is to be normal. Even if it’s just for a day. I can’t remember what it feels like to be normal. I wish for just one day I could see clear and like everyone else does. If I had just one day without any pain then maybe I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. But that’s not how life works. I was dealt a shitty hand. I know that and I know that it’s something that I have to learn to cope with. It’s just so much easier said than done when you know the alternative is so much better.
To be honest, I don’t remember much of what it was like to be healthy. Sadly your symptoms become your new norm and despite how awful your bad days are you just have to remind yourself that you’ve made it through this before and you can do it again. I truly believe that god doesn’t give us anymore than we can handle.