Health

I Am More Than My Chronic Illness

We are always looking for ways to identify ourselves, to stand out. A way to be a unique individual. “The funny one,” “the smart one,” “the pretty one.” “The sports fan,” “the creative one,” “the athletic one.” One way that I don’t want to do that is by being “the girl with fibromyalgia.” “The girl who is always in pain,” “the girl who is sad due to pain,” or “the girl who is always tired.”

I’m more than my pain.

Ask me to go camping. To go on that hike. Ask me to go out for a day full of shopping. Suggest we walk around town. Don’t be afraid to give me a hug or a playful jab in the arm after a joke. Invite me to parties, to your house. Let’s go on that picnic you’ve been dreaming of. Vacation? Let’s do it. I want to go to that baseball or football game too, so let’s get tickets and tailgate.

I have so many interests. I love to cook and bake. I’m obsessed with my air fryer. I love to learn about different people and cultures. I love to learn in general. Teach me something. I am obsessed with animals, especially dogs, cats, alpacas, narwhals and dinosaurs. My favorite color is black. I love the color black so much that it’s how I take my coffee. I love pizza, wings, and beer. I love checking out different breweries. Let’s bar hop. Let’s do brunch. Let’s make a day of it.

I exercise. I do what my body allows. I work with my body. I do yoga, I walk, and I do light weights. I do TRX and random at-home workout programs. I am working with my body even though it feels like my body is working against me some days.

I’m so much more than my chronic illness.

I’m smart. I’m driven. I’m determined. I’ve been through some shit and came out even stronger than I knew possible. I’m unstoppable. I’m funny. I’m caring. I’m empathetic. I’m creative. I’m generous. I’m laid-back. I’m organized. I’m a do-er. I’m a thinker. I’m an introvert.

I’m a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, and a cat mom. I’m a friend. I am there for my friends and my family as much as I can be, for the good times and the bad times. I’m a shoulder to lean on. I’m making jokes. I’m giving advice. I’m a sports fan. I’m yelling at the TV during a football game when there is a bad call. I’m staying up way too late on a Sunday or Monday night watching that football game. I’m catching a baseball game on a sunny afternoon.

I work. I work hard. I go to meetings. I think. I learn. I fail. I succeed. I have a career that I worked and am still working hard for.

I am not my chronic illness. I am a person who lives with a chronic illness.

I have learned to listen to my body and work with my pain instead of letting my pain control my life. I am learning balance. I know the difference between good pain and bad pain. I know that I can keep pushing a little bit further. I also know when I need to take a break. Yes, there are times when I can’t show up due to my illness. Yes, there are times I will say no. But please, do not stop inviting me. Don’t let one “no” stop you from seeing me as a normal person.

Learn about me, not just my illness. Let’s talk about our families, our hobbies, and our interests. Let’s talk about what we’re passionate about. Tell me your best dad joke and pun. What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? If you want to learn about my fibromyalgia. I’d love to talk about that too, but please don’t forget there is so much more to me than that. [tc0mark]

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Keeping it real, and positive, no matter what life throws at me. Follow Julia on Instagram or read more articles from Julia on Thought Catalog.