Feeling Alone With My Chronic Illness, Even When I’m Surrounded by People

The worst part of battling an invisible chronic illness to me is the constant feeling of loneliness, even when there are people all around me. The feeling of helplessness, fear and anxiety — and knowing this feeling won’t fade no matter how many people are in the room.

Living with a chronic illness is hard. It feels to me like it’s always take, take, take, never give. It can be hard for others to fully understand what I go through just to stay afloat. It’s a lonely life seeming OK on the outside but feeling beaten, bruised, broken and hopeless on the inside. When trying to explain what it feels like to be in my shoes, I found the only way is to be brutally honest, even if they can’t fully grasp what’s happening to me.

Alone to me is feeling trapped in a body that is failing and I can’t do anything to stop it. I try to scream, but no one can hear me. It’s a daily struggle fighting what these illnesses are doing to my body without permission to do so. Running to the bathroom in hopes you can make it to the toilet this time instead of throwing up on yourself again. Knowing you look fine on the outside when you’re dying on the inside. When the judging never stops while you try explain to the 50th doctor what you are dealing with, having to defend yourself when they accuse you of being a drug seeker. The embarrassment of explaining to your boss why you called off for the 15th time… knowing full well no one can truly understand what it feels like to be battling something that isn’t curable. Trying to not get angry when people say, “Oh you are sick again, maybe if you took better care of yourself you wouldn’t be dealing with this.” To me, that is the true definition of feeling alone.

I know many of you are feeling or have felt the way I do, and I want to assure you it’s OK. It’s hard to admit these feelings because you are trying so hard to appear “normal.” I can tell you from experience that it gets so tiring just trying to appear fine. After years of battling in silence, I realized it’s OK to admit I am scared, hopeless or just downright overwhelmed.

And for the loved ones, friends, or significant others who know someone with a chronic illness — try to be as patient and understanding as you can possibly be. In my experience, trying to put yourself in our shoes can show us you are truly trying to understand what we are feeling. Because although you may not be able to fully understand what we go through every day, you being here, holding us in times of weakness, loving us when we feel unlovable, and making us laugh when we have been crying for what seems like forever is honestly the best way you can help us when we feel so alone.

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