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Don't Let Anyone (Including Yourself) Blame You for Your Chronic Illness

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If you have a chronic illness, you know it’s no walk in the park, especially if your disease isn’t noticeable on the outside. Chronic illness is a serious topic, but surprisingly, it seems like a lot of people don’t take it that way, and maybe it’s because they don’t understand it.

I have endometriosis, which is an invisible illness. I don’t look like I’m sick. Because I don’t look sick, no one believes that I am. And those who say they believe me don’t seem to grasp that it’s something I have no control over. I can’t control how I feel from one day to the next, not even from one hour to the next. It is out of my control.

The fact that I have a chronic illness isn’t my fault, but sometimes I feel like it is.

For example, when you get the flu, you can usually pinpoint who gave it to you. You can be mad at them for not washing their hands and coughing near you. But chronic illness is different. Who do you blame for your illness? Your parents? Your doctor? Your God?

I can’t blame anyone for my chronic condition, so instead, I blame myself.

When I have a flare-up, I start blaming myself.

“I shouldn’t have carried in all those groceries yesterday.” 

“Why did I think exercising was a good idea?”

Because I blame myself for my flare-ups, I think others do, too.

If I have to miss work, I feel like my coworkers and my boss are mad at me. If I don’t feel like going out with my friends, I’m afraid they won’t invite me out anymore because I’m not any fun. I fear that those around me will slowly distance themselves from me, because they think I use my illness as an excuse. Does everyone think my illness is my fault, too?

I know my illness isn’t my fault. It’s no one’s fault that I got the short end of the stick and that I have severe endometriosis and chronic pain. But how do I get others to understand that? Sadly, I don’t think they ever will.

I’m tired of being told to “deal with it” or to “just take some pain medicine.” It’s hard to deal with something that never goes away and you don’t even understand why you have it in the first place.

But I’m also tired of blaming myself for my chronic illness. Because it is not my fault.

Fighting a battle that others don’t see is one of the hardest things to do. It’s not anyone’s fault that I’m sick, but it’s not my fault either. So when you see me come into work five minutes late or if I’m not as fun as I used to be, just know that I’m trying my best, even though it might not seem like it.

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Getty Image by adrianova_

Originally published: February 16, 2018
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