I have spent several days trying to pull together an article on the emotions that go with living with chronic illness. Much to my surprise, it is not an easy article to write. I find myself looking at my own journey with chronic illness and I believe that it has been nothing short of miraculous. How I have gotten through- I don’t even know. I have struggled and I have endured. I have been angry and I have been thankful. I have been happy and I have also been depressed. I have loved and I have been hurt by people who choose to turn their backs on me when I become sick.
Realizing that I was depressed due to many reasons beyond my control was hard for me to bear. I had been so strong through so much of the hardest times of my life since being diagnosed. Because I kept moving forward, I never thought I could be depressed. Looking back, I even surprised myself. Also, I realize that I made bad choices in the people I picked to share my life with. I should have known that when push came to shove, those people were not reliable. But I have learned and I will be wiser in the future.
Every day, every week and every month, my life changes. I am older, wiser, kinder and much more alert the world and the life around me. I still continue to struggle with my beliefs and I am struggling even more because of being depressed. Chronic illness makes me you numb at times but it also can set your emotions out of whack. When you are working on managing illness and depression through treatment, sometimes you shut down because sometimes, the emotions are not there. I have days where I am completely numb – whether it is the meds, or life or being sick – I long to feel something. Other days, my emotions are all over the place and I cannot quite explain it. How do you go from one spectrum to the other in a matter of hours or overnight? Living with RA and fibro is like that overall. You go from feeling perfectly fine one minute to being plagued with pain and fatigue within the hour.
I think the reason being depressed bothers me so much is because when I was searching for answers to why I was sick, I was pushed aside by doctors who could not figure out what was wrong with me. When medical tests found nothing, doctors suggested stress, anxiety and depression. It was enough to make me feel crazy. I think many of us have dealt with this so we struggle with our emotions. It is enough we are sick…but please don’t suggest it is all in our heads! For years, I struggled with my feelings and emotions because the idea that depression or stress or anxiety was causing me to feel sick sent me back to a time when no one believed the extent of how sick I was physically.
I want to somehow feel that I have won one part of this battle but I have won no part of it. I am still sick, I am still not in remission, and I am still struggling with all the things that life has thrown at me. I want to feel something other than what I am used to. For me, life has gotten to a point where nothing fazes me. I mean, come on – I have loved, I have lost. I have trusted and I have been burned. The one thing I thought I had control of – my body – I didn’t. Seriously? This is what life with chronic illness is like? Is that all we are destined for? – - – Oh, I don’t think so!
I refuse to let the world’s tragedies get me down. I refuse to let personal hardships get me. I refuse to let people who hurt me continue to hurt me. I refuse to lose my faith in the Almighty because sometimes, it feels like others have it easy and I don’t. More than anything, I want to set the best example I can for my children. Yes, I have two pretty serious chronic diseases and the years of trying to be strong have taken their toll on me, but in the end, I am anything but weak. I am stronger for all I have been through and I have handled it. I stronger for learning that not everyone is reliable. It is their choice to walk away and it is my choice to NOT let their hurt affect me. I am stronger for learning that heartache and tragedies are merely obstacles and that the human spirit can endure. The human spirit always endures because it keeps fighting.
The news have shown us some pretty horrific images this week and in the past, these events would have been harder for me to bear. However, lately, I don’t know what to expect anymore. All I know is that life is too short and we cannot dwell on the little things. We have to enjoy the present and love the people that matter. We need to tell him that we love them every day and pray for their safety. That is all any of us can do.