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4 Things That Happen When Your Chronic Illness Isn’t ‘Severe’

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There are so many types of chronic illnesses. Too many too list here. What’s more complex is that each illness will vary from person to person. They also vary in levels of severity. You could have two people with the same condition. One may not be able to leave the house while the other can walk outside and work a full-time job but still deals with fatigue and pain.

One thing I’ve had to learn is to cut myself some slack. Lupus impacts every aspect of my life. At the same time, I’m extremely grateful that I’m not in the “severe” category. My organs are (mostly) unaffected and although I am photosensitive, I’m still able to go outside in sunny weather on occasion – providing I wear sunscreen.

Although this is all true, I’m still sick. As far as I know, I always will be. But being in the “milder” category has made me self-conscious. Please do not misunderstand me, I’m not begging to be sicker. But hopefully, highlighting these regressive mindsets will lead to better self-care. Here are four things I’ve noticed.

I downplayed my symptoms.

In the early days of my lupus diagnosis, I didn’t take my symptoms seriously. In my mind, it wasn’t that bad. My aunt died of lupus complications a while ago. Since I wasn’t like her, I didn’t think I had anything to complain about. But here’s the thing. My pain is still real. Brain fog is a real thing for me. Fatigue can ruin days I’d be excited about. These symptoms are very much real and it’s essential to take them seriously. You only end up feeling worse if you don’t.

I didn’t accept help.

This is kind of a knock on effect of downplaying my symptoms. Because I didn’t view what I was going through as “that bad,” I would refuse help. I would refuse things that would make my life easier. If there was a lift, even on a painful day, I’d ignore it. I was reluctant to apply for disabled student allowance (DSA) because I felt there were other people that needed it more than me. Eventually, I realized that making life difficult for myself by not taking the necessary help is silly. There is zero sense in making life harder, especially with a chronic illness.

I was hard on myself.

Knowing there were people who couldn’t leave their bed and function as well as me made me extra hard on myself. I didn’t want to take what I had for granted. I would force myself to push through the pain and fatigue which only resulted in me crashing for a week. I’ve now changed my outlook. The best way to be grateful for your health level is to maintain it through healthy practices and being your kind to yourself.

I hid my disease.

Having lupus on the milder end of the spectrum made me feel like I shouldn’t complain or talk about it. But let me be completely honest here, there are still occasions when I do this. I recently got a part-time job. Although I was honest with the company about my lupus, I hide it from my co-workers. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m scared they’ll think it’s an excuse. Maybe I fear the long confusing conversation where I break down what an autoimmune disease is. Either way, I need to change this. Being honest is better in the long run.

Yes. As they say, “it could be worse.” But that doesn’t mean your situation is peachy. Most likely there’s going to be someone whose condition is considered more serious than yours – but that doesn’t mean you are not struggling also. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your health seriously. I’m saying this to you, but I also need to take my own advice.

This story originally appeared on You Look Okay to Me.

Getty photo by skyNext

Originally published: June 5, 2018
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