What I See When I Step Back and Reflect on 10 Years of Chronic Illness

When I take a step back and reflect on my life, I can see how strong I have been forced to become. I think of the magnitude of pain I have ignored in order to fall asleep at night. I remember the days spent at home when I was too weak to leave the house. I feel the deep fear when I remember nights spent worrying about what will happen to my body; what will become of my life? I sense the despair that takes over when I imagine how my illness may affect my children’s lives and how much I will miss out on as they get older. And then I mourn; I mourn the loss of the perfect life I once had.

At 21 years old, I couldn’t have foreseen the dramatic life change that was coming my way. When my life took a nosedive, I was forced to move on despite every obstacle working against me. Despite the pain and the fear and the disability, I knew there was no choice but to continue searching for answers and to continue living. One day at a time, I woke up, took a deep breath, and moved on with my life the very best I could.

Yes, sometimes I am angry. Many days I feel cheated. I think of the opportunities and the life experiences that are passing me by. I think of the vacations I would have taken and the day trips I would have enjoyed. I think of the friends I would have made and the friendships that would have been nurtured. But I can’t have it all. I have my family, and for now I focus on us.

There will be brighter days in my future. Will I be strong again? Maybe not. Will I go hiking on my 30th wedding anniversary? Chances are no. Will my legs take me on a bike ride at some point? I can’t say. But I will maintain my hope. I’ll hold onto the prospect that maybe one day answers will come my way. I’ll wake up each day, take my deep breath, and remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life; big and small. Because when I take that step back, and truly reflect on my life, there’s a lot of good that stands out among the ashes.

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

Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

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

Related to Chronic Illness

Female portrait with her eyes closed and chin on her hand. Watercolor painting

When You Feel Like a Stranger to Your 'Old Life' of Better Health

Another year is starting and the family holidays are behind us. During those holidays, did your friends and family pull out old pictures of you and tell stories about different times in your life? Sometimes, tales about before you got sick or when you were “better?” In my case, people often tell stories of when I [...]
woman stands in front of the window

The Moment I Realized I Would Never 'Get Better'

I was diagnosed with lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome more than 10 years ago. Catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome, a type of thrombotic storm involving simultaneous blood clots in small and large blood vessels around the body, followed shortly after. Talking to lupus patients, a common frustration is how long it takes to get from the first appearance of [...]
Walking Your Dog On A Park Trail

The Significance of Taking a Walk With Chronic Illness

Sometimes, our own minds can be our very worst enemy. Between self-doubt and a lack of self-confidence, an anxiety-ridden mind can talk us out of just about anything. Even when things appear to be fine, our mind can have a wonderful way of making us think that things are not fine. For those of you who struggle [...]
White pills spilled out over some wood with text 17 things people wish they knew when they started prednisone

17 Things People Wish They Knew When They Started Prednisone

Editor’s note: This piece is based on the experience of individuals. Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication. Prednisone is a corticosteroid that is used as an anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressant, which means it’s often prescribed to people with chronic conditions such as arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and some skin conditions, among others. Though [...]