What You Should Know Before Calling Me 'Brave,' 'Strong' or 'Inspirational' for Being Sick

Inspirational, brave, strong…

These are words many people use to describe those who are sick. They say how brave you are. Some say, “You are the strongest person I know.” But you should know some things about me before using these words.

1. I am not brave.

I am scared. I spend so much time pretending everything is OK, when the truth is, I live in fear that the small amount of stability I have will fall out from under me. I am constantly afraid of losing my abilities to do the things I love. I am not brave.

2. I am not strong.

During my worst weeks, on my worst days, I hide. I do not leave my house or get out of bed more than necessary. I don’t do this out of laziness, I do this because I don’t want the people I love to see me on the really bad days. I do not want to face them when I cannot meet their expectations. I am not strong.

3. I am not inspirational.

I don’t get up every day and sing thanks for my illnesses. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t ever wished they would all go away. Honestly, I get up most mornings and wonder how I’m going to make it to the end of the day. I ignore, “How are you?” texts because no one really wants the truth. I cancel plans then cry because I really wanted to go. I am not inspirational.

4. I am trying.

I am struggling. It is a struggle just to get out of bed. I am tired. Tired is an understatement. I’m exhausted. I can’t sleep. Even when I do sleep, I’m still tired, but every day, I get up. I take my medicine. I drink plenty of water. I do my school work. On good days, I try to see friends, go to church, just get out of the house… While all of these things seem small to a healthy person, they mean something to me. They mean  I am trying.

So, don’t call me inspirational, brave or strong. Most days I don’t feel like I can be any of those things. Remind me instead to keep trying. Encourage me to keep doing what I feel capable of. Tell me you want to be there even on the bad days when I push you away. Maybe one day I will be brave, or strong, or inspirational, but today I am just trying. I am just trying to get through the day, and that is enough.

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Thinkstock photo via antondotsenko.

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