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Grieving Your Old Self When Chronic Illness Turns You Into Someone You Don't Like

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I’ve been crying a lot.

I cried this afternoon in frustration. Another doctor appointment, another diagnosis, another problem to fix. One that may not even be fixable.

I cried early this morning, 3 a.m. to be exact. I was woken from a deep sleep, nauseous and in unbelievable pain. All to vomit food I had eaten 31 hours prior.

I cried yesterday. I had walked into a doctor’s office with three diagnoses. I left with four. Four chronic, incurable conditions that severely impact quality of life.

I cried the day before that, too. That was the day my shower chair arrived. I cried while using it, but was grateful, knowing my risk of passing out was significantly lower.

And the day before that I cried because I knew I would need to use my wheelchair for a family outing.

I’ll probably cry again tomorrow.

I’ll cry when I get my disability placard too.

I see a lot of crying in my future.

And I am OK with that.

Because I am grieving.

I am grieving the loss of the life I thought I would have.

I am grieving who I used to be.

 This loss is so profound – how do you grieve for someone who is here but not here? I no longer recognize myself. I don’t know who I am anymore.

And I don’t like who chronic illness is turning me into.

I am turning bitter, trapped in a body that no longer works, betrayed by the one thing I thought I could count on. I am becoming angry and jealous of those who can because I can’t. I am clinging to the ideas of should and would and could because I should get better, I would still be the same if I wasn’t sick, I could be independent before so why can’t I now?

I don’t like this person.

I don’t want to be this person.

But right now I am, and that’s OK.

Because I am still grieving.

I’ll find myself again one day. I won’t be the same self I once was. Maybe I’ll be better, maybe I’ll just be different.

Maybe I’ll still feel those pangs of jealousy, watching other people live the life I had once dreamed of.

Maybe I won’t – maybe I’ll be able to just be happy for them.

Maybe I’ll find a new life to dream about.

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Thinkstock photo via g_muradin.

Originally published: September 8, 2017
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