It's frustration, sadness, anxiety, depression, worry, emptiness, and anger.
It's wondering if it will really be forever. It's asking yourself how you'll be able to keep paying bills, medication, and food.
It's missing the past, barely floating in the present, and dreading the future.
It's feeling different every moment of your life. It's feeling dependent on so many things - dependent on medicines, people, circumstances, and sometimes on sheer luck.
It's withstanding mockery, blame, and criticism.
Surviving chronic pain means getting up in the morning and facing another day of uncertainty and doing it with a smile or at least with as few tears as possible.
And while we continue to take the fight towards invisible illnesses like CRPS, the real reason we get up every day is to be there for our family, our friends, and, yes, perhaps even ourselves. Although living with these challenges is hard, we all do the best we can.
For us, survival is all about embracing the unknown, accepting the unthinkable, and never... never... never... giving up on ourselves. It's only then that we feel like victors, not victims of this devastating illness.
I know it's hard for you to understand truly, and sadly you may never really grasp its magnitude unless you get it yourself. Although for your sake, I hope you never do.
So why am I sharing this now after seven long years in silence? It's not for your sympathy or pity, but rather to give a voice to the voiceless. To remind the millions of us who have and continue to struggle in silence that you are not alone.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other, for everyone matters to someone, and you are loved whether you know it or not. While, yes, we can't predict the trials and triumphs we'll face in life, I can tell you it's unquestionably a better place with you in it.
Know, as I have, that all you need to overcome all you encounter already lives within you, everything! So when life gives you a reason not to smile, smile anyway.
Your spiritual gangster,
~ Charlie Cryder
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