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What People Don't Realize About My Life as a Social Media Influencer With Chronic Illness

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Sometimes, I go through my social media and I fool myself. I scroll. I look “good,” “healthy” and “normal” – and for a little while, I believe it.

I think at this point, I am just so used to feeling unwell, that it really is what I view as “normal.” It’s been debilitating at times, but I have grown and built strength within myself due to my illness.

More frequently than not, I feel weak and useless because my mind wants so much more than my body can endure. I also often feel powerful and prevailing because a lot of people don’t have to deal with my daily struggles and persevere like I need to do.

After having fibromyalgia for over 17 years and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis for almost seven years, both entirely untreated and disregarded by health professionals, I have spent a lot of my waking time focusing on me. You know, the phrase, “Treat yo-self!” That comes into play much differently when you have a chronic illness.

Napping after sleeping for 10 plus hours, long showers in the dark, alone time because of the brain fog and crying because you’ve been holding it in all day is what “treat yo-self” might mean to someone like me.

Fitness has been my outlet. When I muster up the strength to get myself to the gym, the after-effects are what’s worth it. The feeling of accomplishment. The feeling of, “Hey, I’m not as weak as my body makes me out to be.” The endorphins that are such a natural high and make me feel like the days before I had chronic illnesses.

Yet, those who follow me on Instagram don’t often realize that I take photos and videos and “save them for later” for days, or weeks, that I’ve done nothing but lay on the couch. This frequently makes me feel like a “pretender,” like I’ve “conquered” my illness via the eyes of others. I haven’t. Not in the slightest.

People with similar illnesses reach out to me and say, “How do you do it?! You’re such an inspiration!” I read these and think to myself, “I am still just as lost as you are.”

Even with years of struggling through my illnesses, I still feel that I have so much to learn from others. I still feel as though I need to try new things and see what works and what doesn’t. I push. And I persist. And maybe I pretend, to myself… but eventually what it comes down to is: I have found my own personal outlet and realize, if only for a brief time, I may have control over my illnesses. Regardless, I struggle every single day. “Struggle” is a nice way of saying it, really. Even with the unconditional support of your loved ones, you will often feel as though you are fighting this battle by yourself. The incapacitating pain, the debilitating fatigue and the unpredictability of this illness holds no candle to the feeling of being so damn alone.

Instagram and social media is a fun and careless thing to most. It used to be the same for me. Now, I know that I have been dealt these cards for a reason and I refuse to stay silent.

I am here on this platform to build awareness. I am here on this platform to show you that you can push through on days your body allows – and even on days when it fights you. I am here on this damn platform to prove to you that you are and never will be alone with your illness, because you are a beautiful warrior and warriors fight together.

Follow Tendra’s journey on her Instagram.

Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash

Originally published: October 17, 2018
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