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Yes, I Am 'Still' Sick

“You’ve always been sick.” Someone very close to me said that recently when he was upset about me receiving what he sees as “special treatment.”

His response was: “So what! You’ve always been sick.”

I won’t even go into the fact that I have not always been sick. The real issue, the one that made me stop in my tracks, is that you seem to think because I’ve been sick for what you think is a long time, everyone should stop caring.

On one hand, you speak a testament to my strength. I’ve been struggling for so long, yet you see me as capable. That’s true. I am so strong. I’m not bragging. Not arrogant. This is just a fact I’ve had to come to embrace. A quality I almost wish I was never forced to learn. And without the strength I find daily in spirituality, the love around me, and highly intentional focus, I am nothing.

“But Jade, you’re smart, you’re funny, and you have people who love you.” Yes, I guess all that is true. But without the strength I speak of, I would be unable to express my intelligence or deliver jokes. And I most certainly would not have been able to keep many of these people that love me in my presence. I’d be too weak, too mentally fatigued, certainly too bitter. I would become someone no one would like very much if I didn’t find the strength to look to a more positive place.

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On the other hand, I feel like you demean my suffering by claiming that because it has become such a regular factor in my life and yours, it deserves no recognition. You hear “She went to the ER again last night” or “She’s been in bed all day with the curtains closed, she won’t be coming out tonight,” and you think “Of course she is sick again,” and you roll your eyes. And while you’re thinking, “Again?” I’m thinking, “When will this end?”

You see, sickness can seem monotonous for those who get to spend late nights having fun with their friends, those who don’t have to live in fear of pain so bad that even a trip to the ER won’t do any good. For the rest of us, we dream of monotony. We dream of living in peace, free from the unpredictability of our own minds and bodies.

Let me remind you, I still love you, and that’s not at stake here. It never will be. I can understand that it is not easy for people to understand what it’s like to live like this. I can understand that sometimes, you just want your friend to say “yes” when you ask her to hang out. What’s at stake here is my emotional well-being. Without the support and empathy of the people I love, I lose my strength. And without my strength, I become nothing.

So remember, without you, I am nothing. Please know that I wish I could be dependable for you. I wish I didn’t deserve this “special treatment.” But here I am. Here we are. And yes, I am still sick.

Getty image by Jurij Sarenko.