The Guilt of Depending on Someone When You're Ill

The first time my illnesses made me dependent on another person, that person told me I was worthless.

“She’s such a liability” and “she should really take better care of herself” were just a couple of comments that shaped the way I viewed some of my chronic illnesses years before I even had names for them. I entered the world of chronic illness with the mindset that being dependent on others meant being valueless, that any health issue I saw as an inconvenience to myself was an even bigger inconvenience to those around me who had to “deal with it.”

Years later, the feeling of being a burden is still my biggest struggle. In the past year, as my symptoms have put me in more and more situations where I rely on others, I’ve struggled with muting the voice that tells me I’m too needy. But it’s hard to mute that voice when it’s always been there. When I am in the midst of full-blown vertigo and my body is fighting the most epic battle against gravity, my mind fights an even more epic battle against the conscience that tells me how inconvenient this is for everyone around me.

The hardest parts of my illnesses are not the symptoms or the drug side effects or even the illnesses themselves. The hardest parts are the internal battles between wanting help but thinking I shouldn’t need it, between knowing it’s out of my control and shaming myself for not controlling it. The worst symptom of my illnesses is guilt.

I know I’m not alone in feeling like my chronic illnesses make me a burden. I also know I’m not alone in often trying to “tough it out” to avoid being that burden. I think we all hesitate to be vulnerable. To a certain extent, we learn to do it alone. Recently though, I’ve realized that perhaps the only person I’m burdening is myself. So, I remind myself that though I can do it alone, I don’t have to all of the time.

The first time my illnesses made me dependent on another person, that person told me I was worthless. The last time my illnesses made me dependent on another person, I knew that I wasn’t.

Today, I remind myself: The people who are still there are the ones who want to be. So, let them be.

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Thinkstock photo via kieferpix.

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