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Learning to Forgive Myself for My Limits With Chronic Illness

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I am still grieving the old me. I am grieving the spectacular being I used to be physically, mentally and emotionally, and it seems like within the last four years my entire world has been completely turned upside down. I miss being able to accountable to my job, colleagues and work ethic. I used to be able to do whatever I wanted before being chronically ill and within the four years have seen my mental, physical and emotional health deteriorate.

I used to be filled with so much anger and rage and then it slowly turned to self pity and sadness. It felt like everything in my life that I worked so hard to accomplish was being ripped from under me. I worked hard to become sober, healthy, happy and further my education but my health completely threw that out the window. I had no idea how to handle my flares and was in a constant state of panic on the inside, but cool as a cucumber on the outside. I had to this fear that I would be viewed as “overly dramatic” if I came in panicking or showed any type of discomfort or pain in fear they would judge me or seeking attention. I never wanted my life to be like this; I always pictured myself being able to keep living care free and spontaneously. You aren’t prepared for the complete life shift that happens when you get diagnosed with an illness that is debilitating and can ultimately be your demise.

I find it easier to use my platform to express the changes I face, but also the happiness I still get from everyday life despite all the changes I have faced. I have accepted that my life revolves around medication, hospitals and doctors. I have taken control over my body and I speak up for myself when I feel my voice is not being heard. I take ownership for my mistakes, but also take responsibility for my actions and make time to correct myself to do better for the future.

When you get diagnosed with a chronic illness they never tell you how much your life will change once you leave that room, but also your outlook on life will change too. You’re constantly reminded how fragile and short life is when the people who you are going through the same struggles with are dying in front of you. It’s hard; no one expresses how much death and sadness you see and feel. I grieve my old self whenever I am feeling defeated and unworthy, especially when I am reminded by simple task that seemed insufficient to me, but now with my illness is almost impossible to do. I am forced to suck in my pride and ask for help because the things I was capable of doing by myself I am no longer capable of doing. I had to let my old self go, I had to mourn the person who was staring me back in the mirror every day and essentially bury her. I kept comparing myself to who I used to be and that’s not who I am anymore, and I needed to accept that.

I am blessed with all the support of family and friends who have never left my side despite everything I have been going through. I don’t want sympathy or attention and it makes me upset when people assume that’s why we tell our stories. It’s not because we want your sympathy, which does nothing for our situation, we want to spread awareness to people that it can happen to anyone.

I lived a completely “normal” life before this illness, but it didn’t steal who I am as a person. That will never change or be altered. I want to spread awareness because it’s important to educate ourselves on differences around us to become more sensitive to other people’s situations and feelings. My lupus affects my skin and people stare and make comments about my scars, bruises and skin as if I am able to change any of what happens to my body due to my illness. Love yourself and embrace every bit of you.

Getty image by nadia_bormotova

Originally published: July 28, 2021
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