A Letter to My Former Self, Before I Became Ill
Dear former self,
Your life is about to change. Your life is about to change in a way you can’t even imagine, in a way that you will wish had never happened. You are about to go from being healthy and fit to being chronically ill. And let me warn you, it will not be easy.
One day you will wake up feeling a little stiff and sore. Gradually you will get worse, then all of a sudden, your whole world will come crashing down. Your joints will begin to dislocate, you won’t be able to sleep and will develop chronic fatigue. You will become temporarily paralyzed in all different parts of your body at all different times, but most of all, you will be in pain.
You will experience pain that you must feel to believe. The type of pain that makes you curl up in bed all day because the thought of moving makes you sick. The type of pain that makes the sheets on your bed feel as if they are bricks crushing you as you lay there. The type of pain that makes you feel like you have the flu, the worst hang over and like you are on fire all at once. This type of pain will simply make living hard.
You will experience so much frustration and anger, with both yourself and with those around you, particularly with the medical system as it continues to fail you. You will be told by the doctors, who you should be able to trust, that there is nothing wrong with you, that it’s all in your head. You will be told that your pain can’t be real. You will be suspected of lying and people will doubt the way you feel.
But I’m telling you this now, you are not making it up. You are fighting a battle which only you can understand. Never give up on yourself or on finding out what’s wrong. Never let these doctors or anyone else tell you what is and isn’t real.
You will lose friends, but don’t let this get you down. The people you lose aren’t real friends anyway. One of the few beautiful things about what you will go through, is that you will get to know who your real friends are. You will also get to see the kindness and compassion within some people that you never would have gotten to see otherwise.
Your empathy and kindness will blossom. You will view the world differently and learn to never judge anyone as you don’t know what they are going through. You may not be the fittest or the most outgoing of your friends, but believe me, you will be a better person because of the challenges you have faced.
It will be heartbreaking to lose your former self, to lose what you considered to be your identity. And it will be heartbreaking to watch those around you be able to do things you can only dream of doing.
And even though you will cry and wish your life was different, you must never forget how strong you are to simply get out of bed each day and walk around with a smile. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel otherwise.
I’d love to tell you that it gets better, and while it is five years later, I still haven’t stopped believing that it can. I definitely wouldn’t get your hopes up. There will be much better days. There will be days where the pain is bearable. These days you will get out of bed and live your day as normally as possible. And whilst I’d never call them “good days,” on these days, you will feel empowered, like you can take on anything. These days are what will keep you going, so treasure them, and never take them for granted.
Most of all, try to be kind to yourself. None of this is your fault and you are not, nor will you ever, be to blame for what is happening to you.
Never give up. Keep fighting this battle. You are worth it.
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