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What No One Tells You About Living With Chronic Illness

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When I was first diagnosed, I remember my doctor giving me a run-down of what the future from that day forward would be like. This rhetoric consisted of things I could do to help alleviate my symptoms, information about my illness and what I could expect long-term living with a chronic illness.

I heard lots of fancy words and was handed lots of pamphlets. I stayed up for days learning more about my illness and the medical findings and jargon that went along with it.

But what I never really learned was that, in more ways than just my health, my life was changed forever.

It has been six years since I first heard the words defining my condition. In those six years, I have learned chronic illness doesn’t just attack your body – it also attacks your way of living, your emotions, your friends and family and your hopes and dreams. It changes you in every way possible and sometimes there is nothing you can do to prepare for it.

While the journey of living with a chronic illness is a long and hard battle, it shapes you like nothing else in life ever will.

Chronic illness trains you to be your biggest ally, your own supporter and your own best friend.

Through the periods of losing hope, friends and sometimes your sanity — somehow you always pull through.

You will find a strength inside of you that you wouldn’t otherwise have found. You will conquer days of fatigue and nausea.

You will face times where you spend days in bed and you’ll hate it, but when you look back you will realize how much it has shaped you, strengthened your mind and built you up so the next time you’re tired, you won’t be torn down.

They don’t tell you that you’ll spend days in bed. But I’m here to tell you that you’ll have time to read your favorite books and remember your love of the ’80s music your dad used to sing on Saturday mornings when you were young.

They don’t tell you that you’ll lose people who you thought would be in your life forever. But I’m here to tell you that you’re going to meet new people who are kind, compassionate and can maybe even make you laugh harder than you ever have.

They don’t tell you that what chronic illness takes away from you, you will learn to get back in other ways. They don’t tell you that through the tears and anger and pain, you will grow into a person who is stronger and more resilient than you could have ever imagined.

They don’t always tell you it will be OK. But I am here to tell you that, yes, it will.

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Originally published: October 18, 2016
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