How Developing a Chronic Illness Became My Superhero Origin Story


The chronically ill: We’re fighters. We’re tough. The amount of strength it takes to get through the day rivals any superhero. Yet, every superhero has their weaknesses. And each hero has an origin story. Just like Clark Kent, one day… I realized I was special.

I am Superman.

Very few understand me (and what I go through).

I know what it’s like to feel alien.

 

To put on my glasses, fix my hair and look normal – and for no one to know my secret.

My illness is invisible and it’s part of my origin story. Sometimes my senses are heightened (sensory overload). I’m chronically weak. I get easily fatigued. And sometimes, I have episodes of paralysis. It feels like kryptonite is draining the strength out of me. Glowing green and keeping me captive.

Just because I experience weakness does not make me weak. Real strength isn’t visible in times of health and abundance. Real strength is what it takes to push on through weakness and refuse to give in.

Sometimes I spend days at a time in bed. No, I’m not saving the whole world. But I’m saving my world. I’m resting for the next battle. And that’s enough. I’ve come to realize that. Because that is what it means to have true strength.

I’ve always loved superheroes. When I was a kid, I watched old Superman cartoons, Batman and even the old Aquaman cartoons. As I got older, the Marvel Universe films started coming out.

But there have been times when I’ve resented superheroes for their physical strength. (Even times when I’ve been jealous of regular humans.) But I’ve grown to realize that superheroes are created by their writers because people need hope. People admire superheroes because many of them, like Superman, embody strength and courage. They teach us to hold on to optimism, to fight like the whole world is on the line and to do it with a sense of purpose.

Every person who fights every day because of a chronic illness is extraordinary. We embody strength and hope even when we feel physically weak. Even when we are weary to our core, we are Superman.

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

Thinkstock photo via Gal_Istvan.


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


Related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

woman sleeping on couch

What It Was Like to Grow Up With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

I’ll never forget visiting with my sister one day after she had gotten a new FitBit. She was bouncing around trying to get all her steps in for the day, while I sat down chatting with her. Even just walking to and from the kitchen can wear me out most days, but she is constantly [...]
illustration of woman with arms out and long curly hair

Reflecting on My Month of Practicing Gratitude While Living With ME/CFS

Following my “July gratitude challenge,” I was keen to write a post to reflect on this and discuss both the benefits and challenges of “gratitude” when living with a chronic illness. In a nutshell, my gratitude challenge involved tweeting something I was grateful for every day, using the hashtag #mydailythankyou. I also asked others to [...]
An illustration of a woman walking with a dear and other animals.

Even When Chronic Illness Makes It Difficult, We Need to Keep Trying

This week I started back at university. It was one of the most anxious, most terrifying moments of my life. I took some time off last semester due to a chronic fatigue flare-up. My life was put on hold, taking the time to rest and try to get back to a point of management. Then by [...]
instagram picture of woman in her "hygge" corner

The Coping Mechanisms I've Put in Place to Help Future Me Through Health Flares

If you watched the TV series “How I Met Your Mother,” you might have seen an episode where Ted and Marshall put things off for their future selves to deal with, referring to Future Ted and Future Marshall. I kinda liked that and often joke about having faith that Future Laura will sort that out… [...]