The Toll of a Chronic Illness

I am 20 years old, and I have been sick since eighth grade. I went to high school for one semester before I had to find an alternate route to finishing high school. I never got my teenage years to figure out who I was as a person. It was all taken from me before I even got the chance to explore who I was and who I could be.

I am sure I am not the only person who’s had their whole life turned upside down and had to quickly realize the person you were before will never be who you are again. Your life is forever changed by one or more medical conditions that make it so even though you look “healthy,” you are far from it. It takes awhile for it to really sink in that you now have to adapt to living a life you never imagined would be yours. You never thought the doctor’s office would become your most visited place all week. You never thought you would find yourself wondering if you have enough to energy to shower or to make sure you ate something.

It’s just like a bad dream you can’t wake up from. It never ends; just when you think you have a routine that works, another thing pops up and puts you back at square one. It’s a never-ending cycle that is unpredictable and vicious. One day you could be out at the movies and the next you could find yourself in the hospital barely able to move on your own.

Suddenly you find yourself isolated from your friends and family who try to understand but just can’t figure out how you can seem fine one day and be hospitalized the next day. Then you find yourself craving someone who understands. Someone who can relate and tell you that you can do it. That you are strong enough to keep fighting.

I saw this quote once that said, “You will have bad days you will have to fight to get though. But you must always remember that you made it through those days. You never gave up. You are strong and you can fight through things most people will never experience in their whole life.” That quote made me realize that even if other people don’t see the fight I go through every day just to survive, I am a survivor.

I may not be living the life I always dreamed of living. I have lost most of my family and friends. But the ones who have stuck by me mean the world to me. They help me keep going when all I want to do is quit. I have had to give up on my dreams of going to college when I wanted to. My conditions now predict what I can and can’t do, which is frustrating. But I have to accept that I am doing the best I can, even it means all I can do survive another day.

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

Thinkstock photo by Surkov Dimitri

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

Related to Chronic Illness

Side shot of a boy sitting on his hospital bed

Caring for My Child With Chronic Illness

My son, Mason, is 11. He’s been sick most of his life. He’s been in and out of hospitals and had multiple surgeries and procedures. We’ve traveled around the country for a second opinion (and third and fourth) on his disease to make sure we were giving him the best possible life and treatments. Mason [...]
woman on top of a mountain

Why I Don't Always Want Doctors to Tell Me What It 'Might' Be

I am learning more and more that I process things of great matter in latency. I don’t become hysterical in the moment; I don’t break down at the first sign of decay. It is a defense mechanism that has served me well over the years. It allows me to stay sharp, on-task, and quick when [...]
Young woman on her phone, unhappy and tired looking.

Please Don't Tell Me How to 'Cure' My Health

Please don’t tell me how to “cure” myself. Before bombarding me with possible cures, please ask me if I want to hear about them. Over the years I’ve tried pretty much every available, safe, possible treatments and many alternative options. It is very demeaning, tiring and frustrating to continually have well-meaning people tell me I [...]
Woman cutting vegetables for meal.

When My Chronic Illness Affects My Diet

Once upon a time, I was a girl who loved food. It was one of my greatest passions. I loved to eat and try new things. There was a little problem, though. Things I ate tended to make me sick. I would get sick after so many different meals that it was difficult to pin [...]