Why Chronic Illnesses Aren't 'Romantic' Like the TV Shows

There’s nothing romantic about chronic illness. Rarely does it feel like some heroic battle where you will defeat your disease against all odds. It does, however, feel like a painstaking, tedious, never-ending struggle to do everyday things. It does not feel like everyone has your back, cheering you on from the sidelines. In fact, it can put strains on your closest relationships and on the best days it can make you feel inadequate, and on the worst days, like a huge burden.

Having a chronic illness is not like the TV shows. It’s not some brave news story. Doctors don’t stop at your every beck and call. Many people fail to show you empathy – it’s far from a “poor me” contest. It’s waking up in pain and going to bed in pain, hoping you’ll fall asleep before you crack from keeping it together most of the day. It’s daily muscle and joint pain, countless headaches, bouts of dizziness, constant infections, digestive upsets, difficulty focusing on anything, and having to limit every day to just a few hours of normal activity levels to accommodate the relentless fatigue.


Chronic illness is rarely understood. It’s not seen as noble to cancel plans much of the time because of your illness or to rely on other people to drive you to your appointments. It does not appear amicable when you don’t have anything interesting to share because you haven’t left the house much lately or when your concentration and memory fail you mid sentence. Chronic illness is not only painful… it’s painfully boring, and lonely. But perhaps the most difficult part about chronic illness, for me, is seeing your health being continually tested and not feeling like a warrior inside. Instead, feeling deflated, helpless and often seeing the worst of you come to the surface. There’s no romance in self-pity, frustration and despair.

I see chronic illness not as a romantic battle but as an enduring war. There’s much one does not see and intricacies one could not possibly understand looking on from the outside. There are many unheard stories of pain and desperation, and you do not know if and when the war will cease. You have no choice but to strive on, taking each day as it comes.

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

Thinkstock photo by

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

Related to Chronic Illness

Promotional images of two subscription boxes for people living with chronic illnesses

These Subscription Boxes Are Perfect for Those With Chronic or Mental Illnesses

Sometimes life gets hectic: Balancing work, family, friends and more, while immensely rewarding, can be especially draining if you have a chronic or mental illness. At times like these, it is important to treat yourself with kindness, whether that’s watching your favorite show on Netflix or ordering a subscription box. We rounded up seven of [...]
heart drawn in sand getting slowly erased by the ocean

5 Ways I Struggle With the Isolation of Chronic Illness

Chronic illness can be incredibly isolating. I do not think I could have predicted the extent to which the isolation associated with being ill would affect me. Sure, like many others I enjoy space and quiet time, but this has now become something forced on me rather than a luxury I crave. I need time [...]
man reading a book on the beach

What Vacationing Is Like When You're Chronically Ill

It’s summertime. Everyone is getting ready to take trips and vacations. I have mine booked. I remember a time when I would have been really excited to go. I would count down the days with tons of anticipation, but as someone who battles a few different health issues, vacations can turn into more work than [...]
the good wife

7 TV Shows That Got Chronic Illness (Mostly) Right

If you’re looking for an accurate, informative, compassionate representation of your illness, it’s safe to say you’ll probably have a hard time finding it on TV. Most shows portray illnesses in a sensational, highly dramatized way, picking and choosing certain symptoms or stereotypes to emphasize and ignoring the reality patients face. It can be frustrating [...]