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How Being Chronically Ill in Your 20s Gives You a Different Perspective

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Having a chronic illness in your 20s is like watching sand fall through the crevices of your hands. It is tangible; you can see it, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t keep it in your grasp.

You see your goals, your dreams, your life, and in a matter of seconds, they all get washed out to sea, never to be seen again.

Your 20s are your time to learn, explore, make mistakes and find your passion. But for those of us in our 20s with a chronic illness, we have a different perspective. We live in minutes and nows, not years and the future.


With each breath we take, we don’t act in haste – we dissect every possibility and action based on how it will affect our health.

The chronic illness journey is challenging at any age. But, in your 20s, you hold more knowledge, strength and perseverance in your hands than many will in their lifetime. You are a warrior, and warriors fight until the end.

So when everything seems to be working against you, including your body – fight.

When you feel you are holding on by a thread that is about to break – fight.

When you feel like you can’t take anymore, and think you have lost all hope – fight.

Fight for everyone before you, and everyone after you. Fight for the life you deserve. Fight for your care. Fight for awareness. In each and every step, you must fight.

The world has dealt us a bad hand of cards. But, our entire lives are a game of cards. Often our struggling is invisible because we have a poker face on 24/7; we have no tell. You can use this to your advantage.

The road you are traveling is not going to be easy. Sometimes it is going to knock you so far down you are not sure you can get back up. But I promise you – you can.

It is OK to be angry at everything you have lost. Angry at everything you thought your life would be but isn’t because of chronic illness. Angry you do not understand why this is happening. Angry you feel you have lost all power. Angry when there are no answers. Angry when there are too many answers.

On your journey you will experience a lot of anger. Use it. Do not let it defeat you. When you are not sure where to turn – fight.

Take your experiences and share them with the world. Shout them from the rooftops. Write them down. Do whatever it takes for you to work through the anger and find purpose in the clouds of darkness that are covering your eyes.

I do not hold any words of wisdom that will magically make our chronically ill lives better. But, what I do hold is purpose. If that purpose is to help just one person feel like they are not in this battle alone, then all of my anger, tears, failures and successes have all served a bigger purpose.

Don’t let the bitterness consume you. Use it in your fight. You are going to need to pull together everything in you for this battle.

Most importantly, remember: if our lives are a battlefield, we have to decide if we want to lie down and be defeated, or if we are going to show everyone around us how strong we really are.

Never lose hope, and always remember to fight.

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Thinkstock photo via splendens.

Originally published: August 23, 2017
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