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When My Chronic Illnesses Make Me Feel Like It's Always My Fault

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I began getting sick when I was only 11. I was thrown into a world I didn’t understand, a world that was completely opposite from my hustle-and-bustle life of being a healthy competitive dancer. The way I identified myself was by the people I was around: I am a daughter, a sister, a dancer, a friend, a cousin, a niece, a student, and all of a sudden I was a patient. When the world around me was changing and spinning in circles I made the choice to hold onto the people around me for stability. My family and my friends became my life. I quickly developed the idea that my happiness and stability were within the people I chose to surround myself by because I couldn’t find that happiness and stability in myself. I didn’t know it yet, but that was the beginning of depression slowly twisting its way into my every thought.

When I called my best friend and didn’t get a reply, I thought nothing of it. When I called a second time, I started to get nervous. When my text messages went unanswered for days, then weeks, and my pleas for a movie night, or a hospital visit were met with rejection… I blamed myself. But somehow, someway I moved forward, I found a new group of friends in high school and convinced myself I belonged. I was so desperate to belong that I convinced myself I did. I made excuses every time my calls went unanswered or my heartbreak wasn’t mended. I convinced myself that when I really and truly needed them, they would be there. Then they weren’t.

This has become a cycle in my life. I convince myself I can confide in someone, I trust them with my all, I love them unconditionally and then it all turns to dust. This breach of trust has turned me into a chaotic mess of paranoia and guilt. I panic when I notice distance. Even when it’s not intentional, I panic. I apologize profusely even when I’m not sure what I could have done. I do things out of my comfort zone to keep the company that I crave and the people I love in my life. Each time someone leaves, my depression wins and it grows. At least once a day, every day I fall into a panic attack that involves self ridicule. “How can you let this happen again, Sabrina? Why can’t you keep a friend? What are you doing wrong? What is wrong with you?” Then follows the should-haves: “You should have gone out more. You shouldn’t have said no to their invites. You shouldn’t have told them you were sick. You should have been able to hide that. You should have been a better friend. You shouldn’t have talked about your struggles so much. You shouldn’t have let them in. You should be better.” 

More often than not I believe that voice, I believe the reality that my depression has created and caused me to believe. More often than not I believe I am not worth loving or being around. More often than not I convince myself I’m better off alone. More often than not I believe this is all my fault, that I am a failure.

But I’m not. I am not any of those things, and neither are you. I can’t help the genetic disease that has slowed my body down, I can’t help the disease that makes me allergic to the things this world is built upon, I can’t help the hypersensitive nerves that cause me excruciating pain, I can’t help that my immune system is too low to be around people. I can’t help any of those things but I can help myself realize that I am worth loving.

I strongly believe in this life there is a season for everything, including the people I am around. With each person who leaves me, or doubts me, or loves me I learn and I grow. I become more aware of the things I deserve and the things that I appreciate. I become more aware of the people I want to be surrounded by, and the people who I’m not meant to be surrounded by. So the next time I find myself questioning my worth or blaming myself for another loss I will remember this is just another season of life coming to pass. I will remind myself that when we are immersed in darkness we will become more aware and appreciative of the light, but most importantly I will remember that it is OK to find that light within myself and not others.

I hope you will too.

Follow this journey on #SimplySabrina.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: October 8, 2016
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