The First Time I Let Myself Realize I Was Ill

I have multiple illnesses, and each one has brought me to tears. Two include immense pain, which, as you can imagine, has involved tears several times. Though, there are certain times when I have been brought to tears that are stained in my memory like blotches of black ink. Recently, I have been struggling with my newest diagnoses, and the first time it brought me to tears was extremely difficult.

When you are trying to find a diagnoses, you have to correct any blood labs that are off first. For me, that was my B12, vitamin D, and an extreme iron deficiency. All of those can cause my symptoms, which is why I prayed all the treatments would work. I knew that myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) was a possibility, that none of the shots, pills, or infusions would work, but I was trying to be optimistic.

When I received the labs back saying that I was perfectly fine but my symptoms hadn’t changed, the reality of having another disease set in. I sat on the phone with my dad after having been to urgent care and listened to him tell me he wasn’t sure what was wrong anymore. That it really could be ME, that we would need more testing, and other things I don’t quite remember.

This just so happened to be during formal recruitment week, where I was already run down and exhausted. I dragged myself up to my room to my bed and sat there stunned. All that ran through my mind was “again, again, again, again.” I couldn’t go through being sick again, I couldn’t do it.

I curled into a ball and sobbed, letting the reality hit me in waves. This was really happening again, I was actually sick. The earth-shaking, heart-breaking, world-changing, thoughts dragged me down into a hole I couldn’t get out of.

Terrified of being alone in college and dealing with another difficult illness, I tried to rationalize any other way I could be feeling these symptoms. My brain couldn’t even come up with a solution, it was still trying to wrap around the idea that I was sick again.

“A burden, lame, annoying” — so many terms flashed through my mind. This was happening again. Will my friends still love me? Will I make it through school?

I cried so hard my eyes puffed shut and my stomach felt like it had been sucker punched. It was the first time that I had actually cried about being ill again. Up until this point, I had put on my brave face and hadn’t even thought to cry. If I had cried before it was because I was scared, not because I had realized my fate.

My fate as a chronically ill college student. A student who is used to being incredibly busy and ambitious, that was now barely able to drag herself out of bed. I was now burdened with another illness that would make me different than my friends. An illness that would effect the way I learned and studied, the way I participated in chapter activities, and the way I could function on the daily.

This was the first time I let myself feel scared of my illness. There comes a time where your journey down the path of grief and sadness begins and it is always an awful one. It starts with a bang, like crying your eyes out, and then ends in a whisper.

I am still dealing and working through so much, which is why I started my blog, Walking Through the Fog. No one handles their illness the same way and that is perfectly fine. You can’t even handle every diagnoses the same way. There are different ideas on how to deal with a diagnoses and I found what was best for me, or at least what is best for me at this time. The first time I realized I was ill again was incredibly painful, but I knew I had hope, support, and love from my family and my sisters. Even though it has been difficult, there will never be anything like the first time I realized I was ill.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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

Related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

young woman portrait with colorful splashes

What I Hear When People Make Comments Doubting My Illness

Today, I was talking to someone close to me. They asked if they’d woken me up — which they had. Despite the fact that it was almost seven at night, my chronic fatigue means that I can’t control when I fall asleep. I’d fallen asleep at around five, I think, but I’m not really sure. [...]
young woman looking tired on the couch

What 'I'm Tired' Means to a College Student With ME/CFS

“I’m tired.” It’s a phrase I use several times a day like every other college student, but it means something different when I use it as a person with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). “I’m tired” means I spent my night tossing and turning from pain breaking through my medications. It means that even though [...]
black outline on white background of woman rubbing head

When I Can't Hide My Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Anymore

I remember in the late 1990s watching a film about a group of teenagers who dabble in witchcraft, with disastrous consequences. They use a form of magic called a “glamour,” which allows the witches to create an illusion, concealing the true form of something. In the film, glamours are used successfully several times to convince characters that what they are [...]
woman sitting in bed with hand on face crying

When Your Illness Turns You Into a 'Crier'

Let me start by saying that I am not, and never have been, a “crier.” OK, so I cry at funerals (but try my best to hide the tears from everyone except my husband) but other than that, I don’t generally cry. In my previous, pre-mylagic encephalomyelitis job, I had a reputation amongst my colleagues [...]