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The Symptom of Chronic Illness No One Seems to Talk About

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Being chronically ill comes with a lot of negative bullshit. Regardless of what you’re sick with – you reap awful side effects and symptoms of whatever you’re diagnosed with.

Aside from everything you deal with on a daily basis, there’s a symptom of chronic illness that no one really seems to talk about – guilt.

I’ve been struggling with this for a while now – the deep-set guilt that comes along with being a sick person.

Guilt ends up creeping in most every week for me.

Guilt from missing work.

Guilt for cancelling my plans.

Guilt for falling asleep at 7 p.m. on a Friday night when I should be hanging out with my boyfriend.

Guilt for cancelling my vacation to visit my parents for Thanksgiving.

Guilt over the concerts I’ve skipped, the plans I’ve ruined, the events I never showed up to.

The worst guilt of all? Pretending to present myself as someone other than a sick person.

Most of the time I feel like I need to wear a sign around my neck that says, “Unreliable Sick Person – Befriend At Your Own Risk.”

I worry constantly that the people in my life are going to regret getting close to me, once they realize that I’m unreliable. It’s terrifying to commit to anything. I don’t get excited about plans, I don’t look forward to events, I don’t make it to work every day.

I feel guilty for letting my boyfriend get so close to me – only for my health to keep declining and for me to be more of an inconvenience.

But, here’s the thing – no one that cares about me makes me feel bad at all. They don’t make me feel guilty, worthless or unreliable.

I merely feel this way on my own accord. I put myself through this. I make myself feel bad for them.

Sooner or later, I’ll realize that I don’t have to do this to myself. I aim to combat this as much as possible. How? I surround myself with people who love and care about me. I surround myself with people who are patient and understanding and gentle to me. I surround myself with people who don’t care that I’m sick, who want to be around me regardless, who know that sometimes I just can’t do things, and they’re OK with that.

That’s the thing about being a sick person – you need a support system. You need people who do their best to understand and empathize with you. You need people who do what they can to make you feel safe, comfortable and valid.

I fear that one day the ones I love will have had enough.

I fear they’ll decide that loving me comes at too high a price.

I fear for what my future looks like.

But for now, I do what I can to enjoy my good days, push through my bad days and tell the people I love how much I appreciate them.

This story originally appeared on anxiousfreedom.

Unsplash photo by Usama

Originally published: January 10, 2019
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