To the People Who Stand by Me and My Illness

To my friends, colleagues, family and acquaintances,

And I’m not talking to all of you.

I’m talking to the ones who understand what I mean when I say I’m “fine” rather than “OK.” I’m talking to the ones who genuinely laugh with me when I walk like a duck, rather than pitying me. Or worse, thinking to yourself that no one really walks like that. I’m talking to the ones who understand the difference between what I can do and what I am doing.

I’m talking to my head of department who offers all the advice she can think of, and doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable when I ask for another day off.

I’m talking to my mentor, who openly admitted she thought people were whiners until she went through it herself, but now wouldn’t wish it on her wost enemy and is determined to learn about me.

I’m talking to my ballet teacher who literally picks me up off the floor.

I’m talking to my friend who asks after my health at the beginning of every reunion.

I’m talking to another friend who gets angry because “I thought they were sorting this?” And offers key advice just when I need it most.

I’m talking to my dad who only moans a bit when he gets booted off the couch and rubs my feet because they ache, and embodies the gentle giant he really is when I’m hurting.

I’m talking to my grandma who knows just what I need to get ahead in the medical system.

And I’m talking to my mum. She knows what she does, but she doesn’t always know the worth.

I want you to know that even when I scream and shout and cry, I appreciate you. Every moment. Every day. Every night. When it’s 3 a.m. and I text you and you reply. When it’s the night before a major procedure and you send me jokes to make me laugh. When I ruin your 13th night out this year (and it’s January) and you come home because you “were tired anyway.” You alone are the reason I am here, I can smile and function.

I will never find the words to thank you enough. But know the fire burns inside.

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