When you hear the word "chronic" describing your illness- either mentally physical or mental, it is really hard to digest. It pretty much means, "get ready to be in it for the long haul" and that your struggle is nowhere close to being over. Phew, that's reassuring. With the diagnosis of a chronic illness comes an overwhelming amount of emotion. You deserve to feel because your feelings are extremely valid and rightfully huge.
Sometimes it seems like it would easier to hold it all in for the benefit of others. Because then you don't have to make them uncomfortable with your issues, you don't have to make the effort to explain something you're not even sure you understand. But I know that the longer you hold in all of these inevitable emotions that come from fighting physical and emotional battles every single day, the more they build up inside your heart- threatening to poison you from the inside out.
It’s scary, looking back on the past two years and realizing the constant ups and downs. There is never really a grey area- it’s either black or white, and that’s what makes it all the more terrifying. Things may not always be the same. You’ll have to make sacrifices. There will be things you’ll wake up one morning and realize you can longer do. There will be frustrations when you realize that some things may affect you differently than others, but with coming to this realization there is a positivity that follows.
Life won't be the same and it can be frightening when you remember that. In those moments you might feel weak, scared, and vulnerable. But while you are lamenting your loss of a normal life, you are also growing stronger in preparing for an altered life ahead. Allowing yourself to feel those emotions every now and then and to connect with the loss grants you the ability to eventually move forward.
In my recent dive into understanding my diagnosis and the acceptance that has slowly followed it, I’ve learned a lot about the people around me. Of course I have the endless support of my close friends who have and will always be by my side through the darkest of days, but it’s the kindness of strangers that continue to uphold me when I cry out to God asking Him why.
I’ve recently become an advocate for my illness, which is something I never thought in a million years I would do. I’ve decided to share my story and not so much in hopes of helping others, but in helping me heal and cope with the days that I feel tired and no longer wish to fight. I never understood how my story could affect others who may be experiencing the same thing or may just need reassurance on something going on in their own lives.
I’ve built relationships out of my chronic illness. I’ve shared advice. I’ve cried with strangers. I’ve visited others in hospitals where I was staying and bonded over our strengths and weaknesses. In a weird and prophetic way, become ill has been one of the most inspiring things to happen to me. Of course it isn’t easy, and there are plenty of days where I want to give up. But the support of others has made acknowledging my journey all that much special.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity”
- Proverbs 17:17