Posted in Chronic illnesses, Fibromyaloga, rheumatoid arthritis, Tough Choices

Strength is a Constant Battle


I consider myself a strong woman.  I am strong in my convictions and I have strength of character, spirit, mind and body. I honestly believe that if you have strength it is something admirable but I also think having a chronic illness makes strength a disadvantage.

Chronic illness has had its effects on me and as the fall and winter months approach, I know that I will not be moving like a “healthy” person for long.  I feel that I am physically strong considering all I do despite the pain that I move with daily.  And to the outside world, I look fine but I don’t always feel fine.

While I don’t have a handicap tag for my car, sometimes I feel like I probably need one but I feel the looks from people who don’t think I “look” sick discourage me from getting one.  I don’t blame them for that because looking in the mirror, I see the same thing.  But people don’t know or understand that I am in pain.  They don’t see it because I am not necessarily limping or hunched over or using an assistive device, but I am in pain and I am tired and I ache every day.  Between the pain from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and pain from neck and back injuries from an auto accident, my pain levels are constantly changing.  Some days, I am at a 2 and other times, I am at a 10 but I am never not in pain.

I understand better than anyone that I am sick but I am strong enough to carry myself with a mindset that is resilient – both emotionally and physically. I am proud of myself for my strength and I am smart enough to know that also means taking care of myself.   Although, I find that the strength that I display strength can force others to see me as happy or healthy and that is not always the case. I struggle but I struggle mostly with showing that I am NOT struggling.  In all fairness, I don’t want people to feel sorry for me but I don’t necessarily think their perception of me and how I physically and emotionally feel is honest. People don’t ask how I feel, or how I am doing or if I need anything because they think I am handling myself just fine.  This is where my strength are to my determent. If anything, it can be frustrating scenario.

I am a self-sufficient person and sometimes I am fine but sometimes I want to be asked how I am doing or I want someone to offer to help.  I struggle because I don’t want to be seen as weak or a burden on anyway.  Most of time, people forget to ask if I need help because I appear so strong and I have no room to complain because it is mostly my fault.  I don’t like to ask for help and I hate not being strong.  On that hand, I don’t see needing help as weakness in people and I am always the first to jump to help others. I just need to stop telling myself that I can do it all and I need to stop seeing that my needing help is a weakness in me.

Strength is a constant battle for me.  It is a daily battle just to stay strong when it feels like your body is constantly rebelling against you. I am proud that I am strong and that I am independent but I just sometimes wish that people understand that my looking fine doesn’t mean I feel fine.

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2 thoughts on “Strength is a Constant Battle

  1. I have put off getting the dreaded handicap tag for the same reason Lana. I am also never not in pain however most days mine is in the 2-5 or 6 class. There is a difference in asking for help because you are sick and fatigued and asking for help because you are lazy. You are not lazy. You aren’t giving up your independence and strength because you need a little every once in a while.

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