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I Love My Life Now, but I Still Grieve the Life My Illness Took Away From Me

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You know that feeling you get when a memory pops up or you come across an old photo of a loved one who passed away? That overwhelming feeling of sadness, accompanied by the memory of emotions from that exact moment? That’s how I feel when I see old photos of my healthier self, when I see myself doing the things I loved.

I look at that person as someone I’ve lost — and in some ways, I have lost her… that version of myself no longer exists and sometimes that’s hard for me to comprehend.

I feel like my life has had a very clear divide — pre-2017 and post-2017. I’m not saying my life was perfect pre-2017, as it definitely wasn’t, but I have moments of sadness and grief for the life and health that I had. Singing/performing on stage, freedom, independence, being able to drive, no regular treatments, no throwing up all the time, even the capability to have a poo whenever I needed one, and having a body that I could (mostly) rely on.

The last few years has taught me so many lessons and shown me how to be comfortable in my own skin. I’ve learned not to take anything for granted and to be grateful for life, but it still doesn’t stop the gut-wrenching pain I feel when I’m reminded of what I was once capable of doing and what my life once looked like.

I used to get angry and uptight, but I’ve learned to sit with it and accept that it’s OK to grieve. My illness has taken a lot from me and it’s OK to not be OK with it! It’s OK to be frustrated I can’t have a bath/wash my hair without help. It’s OK to be frustrated that I can’t leave the house on my own. It’s OK to be frustrated that my schedule revolves around my medications and treatments. It’s OK! This is not what a “normal life” looks like and it’s OK to feel these feelings of anger, hurt, and grief for the times when I was able to do these things.

I used to hate looking at old videos and pictures of me, but it’s getting easier. It’s strange because I’m so much happier and content with my life now. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my relationship and feel so thankful for the amazing blessed life I have. I know that in my “old life” I wasn’t truly happy and I wasn’t content. I didn’t appreciate life, and I took even the littlest of things for granted.

I know I have grown so much from everything I have had thrown at me in the past few years and a lot of people ask if I had the choice to change it, would I? The answer would be no, because although I’ve been on a tough path, I believe it’s leading me to where I need to be. My outset and outlook on life is totally different now. I appreciate more, I understand better, I take notice of the small things, and I open myself up to what I need to learn.

I do miss the freedom and independence that my health gave me. But I’ve learned that it’s totally understandable that I miss it. It’s OK to grieve for the loss of my old life and to even get angry about it. Be kind and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Originally published: January 13, 2022
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