This time three years ago I was going through a truly terrible time with my health. I was ill, I was in pain, I was in and out of hospital and GP appointments, having blood taken every week, struggling to go to work and feeling completely defeated by a body I felt trapped in. This wasn’t the first time I wanted to unzip myself, chuck my body away and start again. It was just the latest bad spell, but also the worst I’ve ever had.
Dealing with long term, chronic illness can be really awful at times. It can be scary, lonely, confusing, frustrating and incredibly upsetting. That feeling of wanting to bang your head against a brick wall repeatedly is common, as is the feeling that nothing will make the situation better. Nothing. Doesn’t matter how many of your favourite things you try and cram into one day, while snuggled up in bed with supportive people and all of the carbs, nothing will help you feel like you again. This was pretty much my default feeling for six months.
Needless to say, it was bad times.
I haven’t sunk that far into a health black hole since then. I’ve managed to keep myself teetering on the edge during the worst days, but mostly I’ve been clear of feeling that only bad things can happen when it comes to wellness and my body, which is promising. It’s definitely a feeling I aim to keep up well into 2017 and beyond. The struggle still exists, like right now for example, I am at work in a lot of pain just because I went ice skating yesterday- ‘fun things can’t happen to me because I pay for them in pain.’ This is not how I want to be feeling. I need to remember there was always a small chance it wouldn’t agree with me. That doesn’t make it any easier though.
It is incredibly draining to be battling a health problem and feel like there’s no one around you that understands or who can really help or make a difference. Be it mental health or a chronic pain condition, the stress is the same. I’ve talked to many people who suffer with conditions similar to mine through taking part in online chats, networking on Twitter and reading blogs on the subject, and though I would never pretend to understand how one person feels, I know that there’s a level on which we can all relate. There are problems that crop up and again and again such as:
-Trying to explain to friends/families/colleagues why you are feeling ill but knowing they won’t be able to truly understand.
-Struggling to deal with the explanations people want when you can’t follow through with a plan, can’t attend an event, or just need to stay home because you’re having a flare.
-Dealing with how unfair it feels that people around you have good health when you are constantly dealing with symptom after symptom.
-Trying to not let health win- basically trying to make sure you can still lead a happy life and try to come out on top, even on the bad days.
-Accepting that sometimes the bad days will end bad and you can’t make them better.
-Getting setbacks when you’ve been feeling well for a while, or trying hard to make improvements to your health.
These are just a few of things I know I feel when it comes to my chronic condition, and I’ve discussed all of these with various people who struggle with health problems. From IBS to endometriosis, bad period pains every month, arthritis and even skin cancer- the diagnosis might be different, but it’s helped me a lot to remember that I’m not the only one. The universe hasn’t singled me out to suffer while everyone else has a party and a jolly good time of it. It takes a long time to take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone in feeling ALL of the emotions and confusion, but it can help, even if just a little.