Dear Ones Struggling with a Chronic Illness,
Have you ever starred into a mirror looking for some symbolism of normality? Looking past the face you see into the abyss of the tangled black clouds that haunt your very existence. Questions flood your mind. Is this my face? Where did my time go? Am I who I want to be? Is this really my life now? You shift on your feet cause the pain crawling up them feels like it will engulf you. You clear your mind and go about your business, getting ready for another day. Your eye catches the glimmer of the mask in the corner, onto your face it goes, then you walk out into an unforgiving world. ”Don’t you dare forget that mask, you will be judged” your mind screams at you as you open your door. You can’t let people see the pain you feel; others will not get it. The mask you don daily is a person that struggles with chronic Illness. It keeps others from seeing your pain, keeps your illness invisible to the untrained eye. The judgement of others is real, you can feel it.
There are days that the illness seems bearable, then there are days when it feels as if it would kill you to move. The mask we sufferers wear is one that helps get us through the days without a total collapse of mind, body and spirit. Friends will call wanting your attention asking you to go out on the town; you politely decline. The next time you hear from this friend they don’t bother asking you again. Then suddenly they are gone from your life. This is a reality in the life of someone that has a chronic illness. People that were your friends count you as unreliable, a flake, a tease. The helpless feeling you get when you can’t oblige them in their request will be there every single time you have to decline an invitation. Most people are not patient enough to deal with a person that has to decline invitations. If you do end up feeling well enough to go out chances are that you are tired. A deep tiredness that even a restful night will not cure. You wear your mask well, posed, relentless in your quest for normalization. You do your best socialize have fun, then it’s time to leave. As you walk into your home you pull that tiresome mask off, and collapse in an exhausted heap on the floor. This is your life, you are limited, but you are not broken.
Normalizing your life is a big deal, but you have to realize that what you have now is a personal, distorted version of normal. When your thrown a curve ball like being diagnosed with a condition that will kill you eventually you have to pick up and move on. Don’t let that mask you wear define you. It is ok to be sad, to be hurting, to want this illness to leave you. It’s all ok, you’re ok. When you wake up and feel like you can go on, realize you can because you have to be the voice for those that can’t speak. Those who can’t find the light in their tragic situation, let them be your inspiration. Finding your purpose through the illness is essential to living your very best life. There will be days when the illness beats you, just let it win for the day then come back the next day try again. Being a warrior against the body that wants to self-implode is noble way to live. Take each day in stride, new challenges will arise daily.
There will come a day when your body has had enough of this fight and it will fail you. Before that day cultivate the relationships in your life. Make sure your loved ones know that you love them. Do your best to be a giving person when you can; this always helps to make yourself feel like you contribute to this world. If you want to travel, find a way, if you want to rest on the beach, find a way. Hear what your soul is saying to you, then do it. Don’t regret your decisions, own them. If you want to do something, then just do it. Have some time just for you. All these things are important to healthy mental functioning. Having a chronic illness will affect your sanity at some point in your life. Depression can settle in when you feel like you are restricted in your life. Restrictions are a part of life, no one like them but they are ever present. Don’t let the depression take you, remember who you are, you are more than a disease. Anxiety will be your constant companion; it will never leave. You will be anxious about life itself, about your health, if your relationships are doing well, and countless other things. Anxiety is something you will battle with, but don’t let it rule you. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel less about yourself.
You will inevitably come across some people that will hold contempt against you. They don’t understand your illness and think you’re a fake. This is normal, people judge others even though they have to business doing so. Don’t let those people get to you. They don’t know you, they don’t understand the struggle you feel. Let it go, walk away and know that you’re alright. In my own life I have come across people like this. Judgmental, rude, people that have made me feel small and inadequate, don’t let people do this to you. You are more than your illness, be who you are, find yourself through the tangle of sickness. It’s an easy thing to do, instead of looking past the face in the mirror, look into the eyes, see who you are.
Be you, love life, hold your family near. J