Why I Celebrated the 'We' of My Illness This Valentine's Day

When my physician told me two years ago that I was going to start a new medication, I felt excited at the prospect of reduced pain. Then he followed up with “there is a strong chance that this medication will make you feel suicidal.” My heart sank – I was finally in a good place with my mental health. I was learning to value myself in the midst of my illness. I didn’t want to sink back into a dark place.

When I told my best friend and roommate about this I had tears streaming down my face. He listened and when the time came for his response he said, “Here’s what we will do. We will check in every day, to see if your mood feels different. We will actively talk about how our days were emotionally, and if things start to shift, we will recognize it’s time to stop the medication.”

We. His response was not that I could monitor my mood, but that we would climb this mountain together. Today, I am celebrating this “we.”

Valentine’s day was yesterday. My social media feeds were filled with posts about love and togetherness, in all forms: romantic partners, friends, pets, families, and more. I’m so appreciative of this celebration of love and I find myself today celebrating one of my favorite forms of love: interdependence. The “we.” Having fibromyalgia has taught me the immense importance of living life together, of knowing that no person can do it alone. Each person has their strengths and they inevitably vary from the people surrounding them. Building community allows for strengths to coexist, to flourish together, to fill in when support is needed.

When my best friend chose to say “we,” he taught me an incredible lesson – that it is OK to not do this alone. In this Valentine’s season, I celebrate this “we.” The “we” of my disability community, my faith community, my friendships, and my partner and I’s relationship fuels me to continue caring for myself, pushing for what’s right in this world, and advocating for changes in the spaces I occupy.

I welcome you to celebrate the “we” you experience in your life today too!

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