When I Feel Stuck in the Shadows of Life With Chronic Illness


So, I’m going through a bit of a rough patch. A culmination of events has left me drained both mentally and physically. I feel as though all the energy has leeched out of me, leaving just an empty shell. A shadow of my former self.

Shadows seem to be a theme in my life at the moment. Maybe because I seem to have a huge one hanging over me? I’m desperate to get out of it and take a step forward into the sunlight. But I can’t, I’m shackled here in the grim darkness.

This post is not the one I’ve been wanting to write. I have had many ideas of things I want to cover. Fun ideas. Upbeat ideas. I want to show that life with chronic illness isn’t all doom and gloom. Because it isn’t. I love my life. I love my family. I’m happy. The problem is, at the moment I’m a happy person stuck in the darkness. A shadow has been cast over my life and my smile. I know why. I know it will pass. But for the moment it’s here and I have to live within it, groping around in the darkness until the sun bathes my aching body again.

It’s winter here. The weather is cold. Even in bed, hiding under the duvet, I feel it nipping at my skin. Cold is pain for me. It’s a lead weight in my hands and feet and nails being driven through my joints. Cold is exhaustion. It’s every movement taking so much more effort. Cold is my body seizing up and me fighting to make it move again. In the winter I am the tin man without oil. I’m a grizzly bear who’s been forced to stay awake.

The shadow cast over me is matched only by the shadows under my eyes. I’m tired. I’m so tired that I feel like I could sleep forever and still not be rested enough. I’m so tired I’m on the verge of tears and I don’t know why. Speaking is too much effort. I trip over my words and stumble and slur. I make silly mistakes and beat myself up for them.

The shadow stops me seeing and thinking clearly, so my life is just a series of consecutive actions, none of which are thought out and many of which are clumsy or foolish. So, life at the moment is hard. It’s hard to see how I’m going to feel better soon. It’s hard to have the energy and impetus to do anything (blog writing included). It’s hard to just make it out of bed on a morning, physically hard.

But it’s OK. Because my life is hard. It’s harder than I ever dreamed it would be. And, though I push them away when I’m struggling, I have a family that loves and supports me. I have amazing children whose laughter and imagination cannot fail to bring a smile to my face. So yes. I’m in the shadows right now. But I’m OK.

It’s OK if you, too, are in them. There’s nothing shameful in that. I’m in the shadows, but I’m not despairing, because I know in order to have shadows, the sun is shining somewhere. Soon enough the winter will be over, I’ll be more recovered from recent health battles, and it will be my time in the sun again. Yours, too.

Follow this journey on This Little Life of Mine.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: What’s one secret about you or your loved one’s disability and/or disease that no one talks about? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

two women friends holding hands

To the Friend Who Didn't Tell Me You Have a Chronic Illness, Too

Dear Friend, I think you didn’t tell me about your chronic illness because I didn’t create a space for you to share more about your whole self with me. I wasn’t fully open and honest with you, either — I’m sorry. Living with an invisible illness isn’t easy, and sometimes the shame and stigma associated with our [...]
Detail of red wooden monopoly hotel and houses with top hat game piece and deed to boardwalk on black background

When Life Is Like a Game of Monopoly and Chronic Illness Is My Opponent

Last night, I achieved what felt like a win at my weekly swimming class. Feeling proud, I posted on Facebook: “Viki 1: Chronic Illness: 0.” This morning, I awoke with clear evidence of the worst sleep I’ve had in awhile… bed a scrambled egg, myself in pain, with double vision… I did not want to [...]
brittany rogers' husband while sick

When You Need to Take Care of Someone but Don't Have Any 'Spoons'

This past March, my husband fell ill. Really ill. We knew something was up, so we went to the doctor that morning, then the emergency room, and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally at almost 10 p.m. we were called back, where a doctor did an examination. They did some scans and what do you know: [...]
Girl with a choice near the forked road

5 Difficult Choices People With Chronic Illnesses Face

Being sick, especially chronically sick, is hard work. One reason for this is that we must constantly assess every aspect of our lives and how every move we make will change everything we do. This requires us to make tough choice after tough choice. Here are five choices we often face. 1. Do we push [...]