The Mighty Logo

Getting Hit by the 'Desperation Wave' of Chronic Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Before I developed rheumatoid arthritis I thought I understood what desperation was. I thought desperation was wanting to see my favorite band play live and being “desperate” to get tickets. I had no concept that desperation could be a long-term feeling or the sheer magnitude of it.


When I consider the times when I cope worst with my health conditions it is nearly always desperation at the heart of my distress. I can go for months managing the pain and inflammation and physical difficulties then out of nowhere the desperation wave crashes in.

The only way I can describe it is as a wave. Not a gentle one, but rather a tsunami that engulfs me. All of a sudden I can’t take the pain another day and am desperate for relief. I think about the future and am desperate for a cure as I cannot imagine living this way forever. My desperation mounts and I find myself pleading with the universe to give me even a small respite. A moment of peace. A day feeling strong and able and capable of doing whatever I want. At its peak the wave drowns me and I lose sight of everything. The light and joy fade from the world and for a while I simply survive.

I survive because the wave always passes. When it does I can see clearly again. I can be grateful for my blessings and shift my focus back onto my strengths. I can meet my pain with acceptance and dignity. I remind myself of the people in my life who anchor me during the flood and keep them close. As hard as it is at the time the wave is worth surviving.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Ig0rZh.

Originally published: August 1, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home