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How I Went From Feeling Like a 'Hostage' to Feeling Like a 'Host' for My Chronic Illness

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Have you ever watched a movie or show in which a person becomes a host to another entity? Whether it’s a demon, an angel or some other life form, the character “hosts” the entity and succumbs to its demands.

Much like the characters in the series “Supernatural,” I find myself having days when I feel as though I am trying to live my best life, but there’s another “life form” that’s taking over me. The days “hosting” this life form become weeks, the weeks become months, and the months become years.

I used to watch the time closely in order to fit everything in, but I now feel that I have been sleepwalking through my life.

Today, though, I am finding that the clouds are parting and everything is coming into focus.

If this is happening to you too, there can be many reasons why. Maybe it’s happening for no reason, and you didn’t do anything new. Maybe you started or stopped a medication, and it’s having noticeable results. Whatever the reason, you may be starting to account for the time you lost for the first time. You may feel like you have been in the back seat of your own life and your disease has been driving the vehicle.

It’s not that you aren’t here, but it may feel like you are watching your life through someone else’s point of view.

This is what it can feel like to have a chronic illness like multiple sclerosis (MS).

Through the daily struggles we may face, we may try to live our lives and do the best we can to make them fulfilling. However, you may feel like a fog follows you around and the days feel short — if you even see the day at all.

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary and may be different for each of us, but they may often be at the forefront of everything we do.

On that day when we find clarity, we may question ourselves. We may ask, “Did I do everything I could, or did I miss out?” We may also question why not every day can feel like today does.

My own moment of clarity got me thinking about my own body. Do I consider myself a “host” or a “hostage” to my disease? I mean, those characters who become hosts sometimes get to choose if they would like to be taken over by another life form, right?

But most of these characters don’t get a choice about being a “host” at all.

Just like those angels or demons that those characters host, our condition found that our bodies were “suitable” for its purpose. Prior to the onset of our symptoms, we may not have understood the magnitude of what it was like for someone else living in this battlefield. But as we see through the new lens of life with chronic illness, we may truly begin to understand what it means to feel like a “hostage” — or like a “host.”

I often wonder what I can convince my chronically ill body to do, but then I remind myself that I am not a character in a film. This is my life.

Although I have this condition running havoc within me, I am not a hostage, I am a host, and I will support the needs of my disease without letting it control my life.

So I ask you this: Are you a “host” or a “hostage?”

Let’s say this together, friends: “I am not a hostage. I am [insert your name], and I have [insert the name of your illness]. My health condition does not have me!”

If you find yourself saying that you feel like a “hostage,” remember that you are still yourself.

Many of us have to take space to grieve what we feel like we lost — and that’s OK — but it is also OK to accept that you don’t understand or like your condition. That might help you move to a place where you begin to see your life differently.

Maybe we can all find the rainbow in the rain together as we continue to fight these battles and see ourselves as “hosts” instead of “hostages.” Fellow chronic illness warriors, I’m sending you so much love.

Getty image by Dani Ferrasanjose.

Originally published: September 11, 2022
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