Why I Continue to Write About My Chronic Illnesses
“Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” We’ve all heard that phrase before, especially in our high school years when we’re expected to try and tease out what we might want to do for the rest of our lives from the tangle of interests, strengths, education and hobbies that make up our lives. Personally, when I was 18, I had dreams of becoming a biochemist. Those dreams then morphed into goals of being a physical therapist before finally landing on what I truly felt passionate about, animal science. Don’t ask me why, but I can talk for hours about ruminant digestion and never get bored.
Obviously if you know me personally, you know that my life ended up in a very different place than I expected after I became quite sick with chronic Lyme disease and wasn’t able to finish my degree or hold a job. I spent a long time trying hard to get back to what I had been forced to leave behind and subsequently spent a lot of time frustrated, discouraged and angry. Then one night I took all my anger and decided to just write it all out. The next day I read it over again, thought it actually sounded semi-readable, and shared with a few people close to me. Those few people encouraged me to share it with an even larger audience because they thought it could be really helpful, and submit it to The Mighty, and thus, my first article was published. Currently, that story has been “liked” nearly 8,000 times and has received 68 comments from people relating to my experience, many of whom expressed that they planned to print it off and take it with them to their next appointments.
That’s when I decided that maybe instead of fighting against the situation I’ve been given, I try to make the best of it. I might not be able to do what I thought I would be doing but that doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. My tools are my time, access to the internet and research material, social media, writing ability and the desire to make a positive impact in whatever way I can. I think that ignoring that would be such a waste of this part of my life.
I know that from the outside looking in illness is not a “pretty” topic. I often hear that people will “be so glad when my life is more than sickness” or that “one day I’ll get back to living” but, while I understand the sentiment behind these statements, I just don’t see it that way. At the moment, yes, my life is largely all consumed by caring for my physical health but I’d like to think that my passion for fighting for the rights of Lyme warriors won’t fade when I reach remission.
You wouldn’t tell an animal rights activist that “one day this shelter will be empty and then you can go back to living your life.” It’s just part of their life. It’s a passion. No matter what steps forward I do or don’t make in my own life, I’m not going to forget all the people I’ve met, the lessons I’ve learned and the ways I’ve grown and continue to grow. The stories I share that you may view as depressing, I view as motivating. What you may see as obsessive, I see as persistence. What you might interpret as pointless, I see as one more step on a thousand-mile journey. There is so much still to be done and so I’ll keep writing, keep using the tools I have and keep doing what I can with what I have for as long as I can until this battle is won.
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