For the Nights When Chronic Pain Takes Over
There are nights when the pain takes over and all rational thoughts go out the window. The nights when you are perpetually too hot and too cold all at the same time, and the nights when even your hair seems to hurt. These are the nights when I sit and bed and think to myself, “Oh my gosh, I am a 21-year-old woman crying over *insert absurd body pain here* on a Friday night, this isn’t ‘normal!’” When I suddenly realize this is normal. For hundreds and thousands of people out there, this night is not uncommon. So many other young men and women having this exact same thought at the exact same time as me really makes you feel small. Not in the belittling way, but in the grand scheme of things, like the way you feel when you stand next to the ocean or some crazy tall building.
I have a lot of these nights forever feeling sorry for myself because I just “can’t.” Sometimes a good cry helps and sometimes just knowing that my words my make a difference to someone somewhere late at night when they are having one of their nights, just like I am, helps me get out of my slump. I may never meet or know these people. I may never even know they read this, but I do know that these things help me get through it.
You are not your illness.
Chronic illness is not who you are! Chronic illness may be what you have or what you live with but you are an amazing person beyond that. You have a smile and a heart and a character that is its own being aside from your illness. That is what makes you you not your illness.
You are loved.
Yes, I know that this is a cliché, but it is the truth! There is someone out there who loves you! You may not know it yet, they may not know it yet, but love is out there. This person, whether it is a family member or a lover, will love you for who you are, including the scary stuff. They will love you way beyond your chronic illness and will help you on those nights when it’s hard. The key is you have to let them!
You are saving other people from the pain you went through every day.
Every day that passes, doctors learn more about chronic illnesses. There is new testing and new management for all sorts of illness now. There is even more training and word-of-mouth knowledge which could lead to doctors helping someone to get diagnosed faster in the future. You were a part of the learning process for those doctors! If it wasn’t for those of us who have walked that hard, long road it would have never been paved. We are adding to the knowledge that saves people from having to beat down the path the way you did!
It is OK to not be strong all the time.
This is a hard concept for me especially. I’m constantly fighting to put up a good front and make everything seem fine all the time! I wait until I am behind closed doors and then I break down. This process breaks my spirit more and more as time goes on. Burdens are meant to be shared, so don’t be afraid to share it. Do not be afraid to tell someone that you aren’t doing OK, that you don’t feel good or you are sad or lonely or whatever you feelings might be. Let them help you, but in order for them to help they have to know that something is wrong.
It is all right to feel sorry for yourself every once in a while.
I hear the “you’re too young to have that many issues” or the “you don’t look sick” and I think, you know what, you’re right. I am young and I have an invisible illness and nothing about that screams normal. I think about how most young adults spend their Friday night out on the town and I yearn for the energy and the enthusiasm they have for having fun. I mourn the days that I could spend without a care in the world and that is all right!
It is OK for me to be wishful and for me to see that I have roadblocks all over in my future; it’s how I navigate the road blocks that matters. Do I stand there hopeless and defeated because I am not normal or do I find a new approach around the roadblock? One that works for me — it doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s mold but my own. I may not be “normal” but I’m sure as hell unique.
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