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How Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates… When You Live With Chronic Illness


Have you ever heard the line from “Forrest Gump” — “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get?”

That is what it’s like living with a chronic illness; an assorted box of chocolates, each one with a surprise filling and unknown consequences.

It’s like biting into chocolate, thinking the centre will be a delicious gooey caramel, but instead you’re unpleasantly surprised to find the center of yours is empty.

That is what it is like waking up every morning when you have fibromyalgia. You think you know what is in store for the day, but you quickly realize you were mistaken. You have these sweet visions of how your life will be, but then there’s the bitter taste left by chronic illness.

It’s hard describing to healthy, able-bodied people what living with multiple chronic illnesses is like, especially when you’re young. Your friends and peers of the same age are moving forward and enjoying their youth, unhindered by their health. Meanwhile, I’m sat at my laptop typing yet another story inspired by fibromyalgia, chronic migraines and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) flare-ups. My 20s aren’t quite as glamorous or as sweet as others. It’s like comparing rich, decadent, artisan chocolate with a chocolate coin; it’s still chocolate, but it’s not the same quality.

While my friends are going to their jobs each day, partying, traveling and making plans in general, I’m dealing with a mind that is eager and ready to work, but a body that, at times, won’t even allow me to leave the house. It is exhausting and heartbreaking, trying to get yourself ready for work, while running to the bathroom to be sick in-between doing your hair and makeup, and the whole time trying to convince your body to cooperate so you can leave the house.

Unless you have experienced the pain, the fatigue and the sickness, how do you fathom that people deal with this on a permanent basis? How can you explain how desperate you are to be able to wake up each morning, automatically knowing you will be able to go to work that day? How can you make people understand that while they’re enjoying their sweet, caramel-filled chocolate, you’re still here reeling from the shock someone forgot to fill the center of yours?

In the game of life, there are those fortunate to be able-bodied and healthy, and those whose health isn’t 100 percent. But, that’s why they say, “Life is like a box of chocolates, You never know what you’re gonna get.” I just hope those who are fortunate enough to have something tasty appreciate what they have.

Photo by Monique Carrati on Unsplash