I’m a 24-year-old queen with a fierce passion for glamour, fashion, and music. I also happen to be dealing with multiple chronic illnesses as a result of late-stage persistent Lyme disease. I’ve been in relapse for the past two years throughout which I’ve been trying to finish a doctoral program for physical therapy. During this time, I’ve fought to maintain the life I once had as well as my own identity. I’ve struggled through non-relationships where the other person didn’t believe in my illness, called me dramatic, or just plain ran away from the gut-wrenching reality of what I go through on a daily basis. I’ve had lower lows than I ever could’ve imagined, breaking down my entire sense of self and having to build it back up entirely on my own.
I am confident now that I’m a badass bitch ready to take on the world, yet I’m still very ill. I have goals and dreams just like anyone else, but I’m trapped in a body that doesn’t want to move and a brain that often fails to work like it used to.
https://business.facebook.com/GoodVibesCatalog/posts/305672613223493 The crippling widespread pain, debilitating fatigue, incapacitating nausea, and brain fog that render me unable to recall anything new I read in books aren’t real. The panic attacks, severe depressive episodes, heart palpitations, and shooting pains in my spine and my feet aren’t there. This mentality helps me maintain a small semblance of a normal life. However, it often causes a lot of strain in my relationships with other people. I once was the party girl down for any adventure, and now I hardly have energy to get coffee. I have a strict diet to reduce inflammation, and I don’t drink often. But because I “look fine” and I rarely post about being ill on social media, others assume that I’m OK. They assume that because I have one good day, decide to cheat on my diet, or take a photo at a bar, I must be doing better. Like everyone always says, there’s more to the story than what social media shows.
I try to explain the seriousness of my condition to people I care about, and more often than not they respond as if I’m exaggerating, attention-seeking, or just don’t care enough to ask me a single question about it. People with invisible illnesses are often trivialized by the ones they love most. Unfortunately, I’m faced with the reality of multiple serious, chronic illnesses. My insides scream for the life I once had, but that life is long gone.
For way too long, I carried around shame regarding my illness. I’d feel guilty for “imposing” on others and I’d never ask for help. On my worst days, I’d be buried in it, letting myself suffer alone instead of reaching out for support. News flash, my sick friends—you can’t do this alone. Find someone who understands you—or at least tries their hardest to—and allow yourself to lean on them.
Anyone with an invisible illness—be it an autoimmune condition, mental illness, and many others—understand this battle. We’re going through hell so we can come out of it stronger than we ever were before it.
I’m still working on myself every day. I’m trying to find the balance between my current situation and the life I’d eventually like to be living. To all of my chronic illness warriors out there—and yes, we are ALL warriors even when we feel like giving up—you’ve got this. You can get frustrated, want to quit, and take a break from surrendering to illness as long as you never stop. Recovery is not linear, and you are not alone—never stop fighting for your health, it’s the most important thing you will ever have.