A mentor of mine told me after my recent reflection about illness that “our personal disabilities will have greater impacts on our lives at different times.” It has been something that has struck a chord with me as I reflect on the past few years. Living with chronic disease(s) can be a daily struggle. At times, it lays dormant, hiding only on the periphery of your day, while other times has it center stage. When that happens, everything in our life revolves around our illness, and not around our life. It’s the same idea of “to a worm in horseradish, the whole world is horseradish.” It can become so easy to get sucked into this hole of chronic illness where everything is swallowed by the symptoms. Even fun activities become a chore, always wondering if the illness will strike at an inopportune moment.
For millions of people, chronic illness is a normal part of their day. We often sit and wonder how our lives might be different if we were one of the “normal” people our age. The ones who brags that they’ve never used a sick day. Or have no problems with spur of the moment travel plans that could take us anywhere without a care of whether we have all the medications, contingency plans, knowledge of local medical facilities.. When every restaurant choice, and long commute creates anxiety, and every month is a balance of school, work, and doctor appointments. The ones who don’t understand what it’s like. Because it’s impossible to know unless you live it These are only a few of the things that cross the mind of individuals with chronic illness each day. Or at least during the times when the illness is on center stage.
Perhaps the strangest part of living with a chronic disease is the benefits of them. I know that I would not be the person I am today without my history. It has made me a better person, understanding of many things that most never realize; an empathetic and understanding individual who can put myself in another’s shoes. It gave me an appreciation for life, and how undeniably beautiful it is, despite all the negative parts that could happen. It has motivated me to do as much as I can, see as much as I can, and to do these things while I’m young. Putting off your hopes and dreams is the privilege of those who have strong faith that they will still be able to accomplish them way down that road.
The truth is, there is nothing easy about chronic diseases. At the best of times, they are a nuisance that we keep in mind, but at worst, they take hold of our personal and professional lives. At the worst points, we wonder whether we’ll ever be well, or lead a semi-normal life. If we are lesser than, unworthy, or as The Fault in Our Stars so eloquently put; a grenade seeking to minimize the casualties. My own career choices have at times been altered because of it. Friendships strain, relationships struggle- sometimes lost entirely. One of my biggest regrets will always be not being able to follow through on a dream because of it. So I adjust the sails, and try to compensate, and everything works out in some way, whether for the best or not. And we hold on until it retreats into the background once more. We hold on, and we hope for the better day. Because on those days, we are infinite.
By: Courtney Kidd, LCSW
SJS Staff Writer
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