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The Lessons From My Endometriosis I Don't Want to Forget When I Feel Better

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If you’re anything like me, living with a chronic illness has completely reshaped your worldview. At times, I look back at my former self and think, How did I ever live that way? While I was in my darkest of my struggles battling endometriosis, I started keeping a journal. Mostly, it was for therapeutic purposes, but also so that I would never forget how I felt in certain moments of my journey. I didn’t want it to even be possible to unlearn the important things my illness has so graciously made me aware of.

Dear (almost) healthy self,

Though you may be doing well right now, I don’t want you to forget the lessons your chronic illness has taught you. Do you remember when you had days that were so horrible, you thought “I couldn’t possibly do this another day?” You proved that you are stronger than you even knew, and can face any challenge that life throws at you with confidence and determination. Those friends that went absent when you needed them the most? It is OK to accept that those relationships are not what you thought they were, and you deserve more than fair weather friends. Those friends that never left your side, fought your fights with you, and genuinely reached out to show their concern? Don’t ever let them go.

The judgment and lack of empathy that you feared and sometimes faced by people who couldn’t wrap their minds around the fact that illness can in fact be invisible? Please don’t ever judge someone else by your limited or biased world view. How about those nights that you wished you had someone to vent to about your frustrations without being responded to with the cliche “It could be worse?” Always acknowledge that a person is entitled to feel frustration in their situation, and lend them an ear to listen. There were many wonderful people you met through various forms of social media who hardly knew you, but understood you better than anyone in your life did because they’ve walked in your same shoes and selflessly gave you advice along the way. Please do not forget to pay it forward. You wouldn’t be where you are today without those people.

Do you remember the moments when you put work deadlines before your self-care needs? Remember, that left you worse off than you were before. Your body should continue to be your temple that you take meticulous care of.

Then there were the times you were too busy for your friends and family. I urge you to continue to keep moments with these people as a priority, as these are the ones that truly count. Or what about the seemingly simple things you took for granted, like walking, eating and sleeping? The ability to do these things are a gift — don’t you ever forget that. Do you remember the days when your life was falling apart before your eyes? Look at you, you’re still here.

I urge you, as your life continues to blossom and evolve as you continue to recollect pieces of your former self you thought you’d forever lost, I beg you to keep these new pieces as well. You are forever changed, in the best possible way, because of them.

With love,

Your struggling self

Originally published: July 21, 2016
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