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The Question That Made Me Rethink My Undiagnosed Illness Battle

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After months of therapy for depression and support through dealing with undiagnosed health challenges, my therapist asked me a single question that made me rethink my perspective on my battle with undiagnosed illnesses. I had always thought of myself as a positive person, even as I struggled in pain that I shared with very few people. I thought of myself as hard working, and always putting everything I had into what I was doing. But I didn’t realize, recently being sick had become the way I thought about myself.

After a difficult session when I was struggling with many physical problems and not getting support from my doctors, my therapist asked, “If tomorrow you woke up and everything was better, what would that look like?”

As I thought about it, I laughed and said, “I don’t know. Life would be great, I guess.”

After a few minutes, I continued, “I would wake up and have the energy to jump out of bed again. I wouldn’t be afraid of getting dizzy when I got up. I could eat what I know is a healthy breakfast without being afraid of throwing it up. I could run again. I wouldn’t have to go to doctors anymore and have them not believe me. But mostly, it would be easy. It would be easy to pay attention in class because I wouldn’t be in pain or distracted by fears of what would happen later. It would be easy to get lunch with my friends because I could eat whatever I want. It would be easy to see friends after class because I would still have energy. It would be easy to enjoy the day. I could go for a run somewhere beautiful. I could laugh, I could smile. And it would be easy.”

Since then, I’ve realized how much my answer and her response shows me about my life. I was tired – tired of being sick, tired of being in pain, and tired of not being heard by those who are supposed to help me. I still am tired all the time, but I’m working on making that clear to the doctors I see. But mostly it showed me how desperate I was for an easy way out. It probably won’t be easy for me for a long time to do things that once were easy – going to class, having a job, even eating a meal. That’s why they call us chronic illness warriors. Because we are constantly fighting battles that others can’t see.

Now, I try not to hope that life is easy. One of my favorite quotes for a while has been, “Nothing worth doing is easy, and nothing easy is worth doing.” I’ve never taken the easy way out, so I don’t know why I would want to do that when fighting my illness. Sure, if I could spend my energy on more exciting things than getting out of bed and making breakfast that would be amazing. But if that’s what I can do today, that’s great. And just because something isn’t easy, doesn’t mean I can’t do it. I make an effort now to find something beautiful that makes me happy everyday. I make an effort to smile and laugh and see my friends. I will live my life – whether that means working, going to school, or being a full-time patient. I won’t let my illness stop me from being who I am and loving what I do. Because sure, it’s not easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not amazing. Now, I don’t hope for an easy life, instead, I fight everyday for a life worth living.

Getty Image by demaerre

Originally published: July 6, 2018
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