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I Wish I Could Take a Break From My Chronic Illnesses

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It would be so nice to get a break from my exhaustion and pain. I would love a vacation, a day off, or even a little time to myself to forget about it. But wherever I go, my pain and fatigue goes. In the words of indomitably sassy “Designing Women” character Suzanne Sugarbaker, “Wherever you go, there you are.” She was talking about “getting away” as a solution for your struggles, and I can relate to what she said. My symptoms never go away.

It would be great if having a meltdown or a tantrum helped me or changed anything, but it doesn’t. Meltdowns just use energy I don’t have and intensify my headaches, and crying just gives me sinusitis. I can’t even be too excited or enthusiastic when I can get enough energy or adrenaline because that just burns right through my energy too and leaves me feeling weak, shaky, and wobbly. I live on a plane of imposed mediocrity.

Though I am responsible, orderly, and stable, it is not in my nature to live so dispassionately and inexpressively. Yet few have seen the passionate, spontaneous side of me. I hate inactivity, unproductiveness, and indecisiveness. I’m a firm believer in “lead, follow, or do something.” The thing about multi-condition, energy-depleting chronic illness is that it cannot always be “managed,” and it has changed who I am. It may not have changed me at my core, but it has definitely changed my ability to express and demonstrate who I am. Far too many days, it so overwhelming masks who I am that even I can’t identify with my true self. There is a well-defined delineation between my former self and my present self because of my chronic illnesses.

I fully comprehend that life changes — and we all change. The exponential acceleration of that concept in the form of life-altering, debilitating chronic illness allows me no time for adjustment or acceptance. It is a steep learning curve that takes no prisoners, so I either sink or swim. Much of my time early on in my illness was spent floundering and sometimes going under. Now, though, I mostly tread water. Occasionally, I get to float and rest awhile when I experience glimpses of my true self for brief periods. In these moments, I remember that “still I rise.” Otherwise, I would surely drown.

Getty image by Valeriy_G.

Originally published: May 20, 2022
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