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What I See When I Step Back and Reflect on 10 Years of Chronic Illness

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When I take a step back and reflect on my life, I can see how strong I have been forced to become. I think of the magnitude of pain I have ignored in order to fall asleep at night. I remember the days spent at home when I was too weak to leave the house. I feel the deep fear when I remember nights spent worrying about what will happen to my body; what will become of my life? I sense the despair that takes over when I imagine how my illness may affect my children’s lives and how much I will miss out on as they get older. And then I mourn; I mourn the loss of the perfect life I once had.

At 21 years old, I couldn’t have foreseen the dramatic life change that was coming my way. When my life took a nosedive, I was forced to move on despite every obstacle working against me. Despite the pain and the fear and the disability, I knew there was no choice but to continue searching for answers and to continue living. One day at a time, I woke up, took a deep breath, and moved on with my life the very best I could.

Yes, sometimes I am angry. Many days I feel cheated. I think of the opportunities and the life experiences that are passing me by. I think of the vacations I would have taken and the day trips I would have enjoyed. I think of the friends I would have made and the friendships that would have been nurtured. But I can’t have it all. I have my family, and for now I focus on us.

There will be brighter days in my future. Will I be strong again? Maybe not. Will I go hiking on my 30th wedding anniversary? Chances are no. Will my legs take me on a bike ride at some point? I can’t say. But I will maintain my hope. I’ll hold onto the prospect that maybe one day answers will come my way. I’ll wake up each day, take my deep breath, and remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life; big and small. Because when I take that step back, and truly reflect on my life, there’s a lot of good that stands out among the ashes.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: February 9, 2017
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