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5 Things I Wish I Told My Chronically Ill Self Earlier

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These are things I wish would have said to myself earlier in my illness, instead of beating myself up and trying to “get over it.”

1. I know it’s hard. It’s hard all the time. You don’t have to pretend to make others feel better. You’re sick. It’s OK.

2.  Stop letting your head hold you to the expectations you held yourself to before you were sick. Your body has no problem telling you it’s sick; it’s your mind that pretends like it’s all OK. Remember, you’re sick. It’s OK.

3. Stop making yourself feel guilty for resting. Stop making yourself feel guilty for not reading, talking, learning, creating, moving or thinking as much as you used to. You’re not dumb. You’re not lazy. You’re not boring or useless. You’re sick. It’s OK.

4. I know none of the “healthy” people say the right things, and you feel the room go stiff and quiet any time you casually joke or mention your illness. Be you, and other people will learn it’s OK.

5. I know it’s also lonely, and you’re trying to shake it off. You try and hang out, and do what normal people do, and you try to pretend you don’t feel like you’re going to throw up any second. And I know you feel like a weakling any time you let the illness stop you from doing something. But it’s an illness, you can’t just shake it off. You can’t half-ass recovery. It’ll be OK.

Sometimes we lose perspective. We think what our bodies, minds, and heart feel in this moment is forever. You’re in a season of life. You’re learning. You’re not losing intelligence, that’s just the brain fog. You won’t always be this tired, and you’ll pick up your hobbies again. Hang in there, it’s all going to be OK.

Originally published: May 1, 2018
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