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With Chronic Illness, My Life Is Not as Easy as It May Seem

“Your life is so easy. You’re in your 20s with no responsibilities, no kids to tie you down. You have no idea how good you have it.”

Ever heard those words or is it just me? My guess… It’s not just me.

And every time I smile and laugh, hiding the pain away again.

But what if they knew the truth? Would they understand then? Because the truth is scary and it hurts. And almost no one understands.

The truth is that at 20 years old I was diagnosed with relapsing polychondritis and lupus, and at 22, rheumatoid arthritis. That every day is a struggle. That I might never get to have the life they complain about.

But I have chosen not to be bitter. It is a hard choice, and often times a daily choice. I realize that I appreciate the little things in life so much more than most people ever will. I get excited for the days that I have energy to go with my dad to the movies (seriously, I’ve saved all of my tickets). I may only get to go out shopping once in a while but I try to make sure it’s a day where I can also squeeze in time for my sister because this is not easy for her either. I’m grateful for the days where I have the strength to hold a wriggling baby or to make a toddler laugh. These days and moments are gifts.

The good days are what keep me going. Because there are days when watching someone play with kids will make me cry. Days when brushing my hair for work brings shooting pain. Days when I beg my dad to put gas in my car because I literally do not have the energy. And I have to remember that good times will come again or I would just stay in my room all day every day.

So no, my life is definitely not easy. My life is hard like everyone else’s – just in a different way than most. But I firmly believe that it will all be OK. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow or next year, but when I get to heaven, there will be no more pain or chronic exhaustion. There will peace and healing.

Here’s my advice to whoever is reading this. Do not let people who will never understand keep you down. Yes, there are days where you need to cry. But there will also be amazing days. Savor those moments. Hold on to the memories during the bad times. And always remember…

You will make it through this.

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Thinkstock photo via LittleBee80.