“Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.” (Mary Anne Radmacher)
Pain, fatigue, and feeling alone with your chronic illness can make self-pity and crying an effortless option.
From the beginning of my experience with a chronic illness lasting over eight years and counting, I had feelings of frustration, but there was a moment of self-pity I particularly remember. My incision awakened me in extreme pain a few months after emergency surgery. I didn’t want to get up. I felt as sorry for myself as possible and devastated that my life had changed drastically. I was stuck and with no hope that I would get better. Exhaustion causes symptoms such as these that are not physical. It felt good to give in and stare at the ceiling through my tears.
There are many ups and downs with a chronic illness or other ability challenges, including mental health. The CDC (USA) reports six in ten adults have a chronic disease and four in ten adults have four or MORE! An invisible affliction is often worse when outsiders don’t believe what they can’t see. Everyone has their means of surviving. The morning I awakened in pain, I said to myself, “okay, what can I do now? I can open my eyes, breathe, and get out of bed. I’ll start with those things. I won’t think about the future. Be in this moment, do what you can, and don’t remember how life used to be”.
These are thoughts many of us with chronic illnesses have. It’s how we make it through, even when the only one left to believe in us is ourselves.
We often feel alone and isolated.
No one but us can feel what we are feeling, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve support.
For those looking for insight, want to do differently, and be supportive, the following are often the experience or feelings of the chronically ill that, feeling unsafe, are not shared.
- People say we’re faking it – this creates self-doubt. We wonder if we aren’t sick and bringing our situation on ourselves.
- Snide remarks, hatred, and criticism. These sentiments matter and often leave scars nearly impossible to heal.
- Healthcare providers prioritize those with acute pain. However, sometimes we aren’t sure how ill we are. Then, it all rolls into one after a while until we reach that debilitating moment. The brain has an uncanny way of putting aside pain until it just can’t. Then we’re told, “Why didn’t you come in sooner?” My response is, “I’m here now. Let’s start from there.”
- ER doctors say, “We don’t treat chronic illness,” but our doctor says, “If your symptoms get worse, go to the ER.”
- Not everyone has access to consistent, quality medical care and, as a result, delays seeing a doctor. Without access, those afflicted often don’t appear at follow-up visits, and they don’t change practitioners when they need to.
I see you for anyone suffering from a disease, chronic illness, mental health, or disability issues.
Don’t suffer in silence.
To those wanting to learn and do differently, everyone can — healthcare providers, insurance companies, friends, etc., so ask questions respectfully, sincerely, and don’t judge. Everyone’s story deserves to be handled delicately and with respect.