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The Struggle of Being a Chronically Ill, Independent Woman

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I have always been a very independent woman. Staunchly so. Even as a child, I would be the one to try on my own and fail many times before asking anyone for help. A bit stubborn? Perhaps. I always choose the terms determined and independent. I am also chronically ill.

I am a chronically ill, independent woman.


Those two terms seem to be more and more contradictory as time goes on. Some days I am able to do everything on my own! I feel fantastic, I go to work, run errands, clean the house, cook a fantastic meal, see some friends… I feel like I can conquer the world! Go Independent Me! Other days, and days which are becoming more often than not, I am able to do nothing. I can’t go to work, I can barely muster up enough strength to pick up the phone to call in sick to work, I must cancel all social plans. I cannot make myself any food to eat, which is fine because I’m usually too nauseous to eat. I may be able to reach the pain pills, but I am too weak to get the bottle open.

It is on those days that being an independent woman takes its toll. I am usually so strong, so capable, so able to take care of myself. What do you do on days when, even if you have loved ones knocking at your door, you’re unable to make it to said door to unlock it to receive that help? When you’re unable to even move from the immense pain? When all you want is for someone to take care of you, but no one is around?

I find I am currently at a crossroads in life. 40 years old, happy in my solitude, not needing or wanting anyone in my space…but then I am hit with a flare-up. The pain, the isolation, the desperation… It’s enough to drive anyone to tears. Do I give up the life I love and just get together with someone so they can take care of me as my condition gets worse and my health fails more and more? What kind of a person does that make me? Is it fair to trap someone into a life of playing nurse?

Those of us who have been so independent for so long feel doubly limited by a debilitating chronic illness. Don’t want help, but desperately need it. So which way to go from here?

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Thinkstock photo via Andesign101.

Originally published: September 28, 2017
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