A Letter to My Future Partner About Me, My Illness, and How It Affects My Future
Dear future partner,
When you first get to know me, you will be meeting an energetic, positive, happy young woman with a quirky personality, a love of literature, and an affinity for terrible puns. Everything about me will seem perfectly normal, from the clothes I wear to the things I do. It’s only when I get sick the first time that you will know something’s up with my body.
I have chronic illnesses. I’m not sure how many or even what they are. All any doctor I’ve ever seen in my 18 years of existence can do is slap that nebulous label on my afflictions and shoot in the dark to treat my many symptoms. I wake up every day exhausted. My kidneys, liver, adrenal glands, thyroid, lungs and gut all don’t work right. My immune system is depleted to the point where I get sick every one or two months. I can’t lose weight easily, and I have acne scarring all over my back because my body has no other way to eliminate toxins. I can’t concentrate easily. I have depression and anxiety, and I eat a diet that has earned me bullying and teasing from the time I was in fourth grade.
I know all of that is a lot to take in. You have no idea how much time and money it takes out of my life and my parents’ lives to help me function just as well as I do right now. I don’t want you to think of the above laundry list every time you look at me. But at the same time, I want you to be aware of it.
Remember my chronic fatigue when I can’t stay up late talking to you on the phone. Don’t get angry with me when we can’t FaceTime because I’m so sick my throat feels like it’s on fire when I speak. Don’t make remarks about how we can’t go to certain restaurants because of my dietary needs. And please, for the love of God, don’t say anything about my looks because my health has affected them enough already.
Despite all that, don’t lose sight of the me under the illness. I am creative and happy and joyful and positive. I am a good listener. I have a good sense of style. I love to write. None of it is an act. If you plan on dating me and especially if you plan on marrying me someday, all of this will fall under your care. My illness and I are (unfortunately) hand-in-hand. So please, for my sake, decide before you choose to date me if you can happily love me more than you dislike my illness.
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