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3 Things I Thought When I Was First Diagnosed With Chronic Illnesses

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I would watch movies and television shows that involved people with chronic illness. I would always try to empathize with those who were struggling and attempt to put myself in their shoes. It is nearly impossible to feel the physical and mental pain that another is feeling because we all experience both physical and mental pain differently. A lot of these movies and television shows do not emphasize the day-to-day acceptance of a chronic illness. They do not portray the process of acceptance, if we ever come to fully accept it. The movies and television shows do not reveal the initial thoughts and/or questions that come pouring into the minds of those with chronic illness and how their lives may be affected after initial diagnosis.

I was confused. I was in a daze. I had so many questions, yet I could not put a sentence or question together if my life depended on it. But I can remember what my initial thoughts were upon receiving the diagnosis of multiple chronic illnesses.

1. I will never be in a normal relationship.

I look back at this statement and wonder who defines the concept of a “normal relationship?” Of course, relationships have their ups and downs, but this was something that was permanent and here to stay. As I look back on this thought, I’ve realized that, for me, there is no “normal relationship.” A relationship cannot be built based on fear of the unknown because frankly, any one of us can walk out of the door and never return due to an accident, sudden illness, etc.

Don’t be fearful in your relationship because you don’t know how you’ll feel from one day to the next. Be with someone who wants to battle the unknown with you.

2. Will I be able to have children?

Being a mom has always been in my plan of life but then again, very rarely do things go according to plan. This was tough to even consider, but being a mom was one of the most important parts of my life and to think there is a possibility of not being able to carry my own child terrified me. There are other options. Remember that. There is adoption. There is surrogacy. Don’t think this is the end of the world because as much as many of us would love to carry and give birth to our children, we are lucky to have another option to have a family.

3. How am I going to tell my friends, family and others?

How could I possibly explain these multiple chronic illnesses to people in my life if I do not fully understand them? To this day, I cannot say that I understand my conditions 100 percent. I researched for months until I found myself on the 30th page on Google and realized I’m not going to fully understand it and that is OK. I have lost a lot of people in my life due to “laziness,” “faking” and “lying” about my chronic conditions. Sure, I could have pulled out my thousands of pages of medical records, but why should I have to be the one to prove that I’m sick when these people were calling me lazy, a faker and a liar? From my experience, the most important thing is not how much you know about your chronic illness but more about how others can support, encourage, and empower you to be the best you.

The initial thoughts I had seem pretty normal but then again, many healthy people take for granted things that we have to face no matter how difficult the outcome may be to handle and process. The best thing about my initial thoughts is it opened my mind up to a world of possibilities I did not know existed. I am able to empathize and support others with chronic illness. I do not have to pretend to understand their weakness or pain because I’ve been there. Of course there are days when I am full of anger and sadness because of things I can’t do anymore, but I try to focus on the things I have control over.

I don’t know when my time is up here on earth, but I don’t want to waste time on dwelling on the things I have no control over and start living in the moment. Remember — the present is a gift and take full advantage of it while you can.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images.

Originally published: November 15, 2016
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