I’ve stared at this blank document for days now, each time the tears welled up and I could not find the words to write. I am feeling extremely emotional and fragile about my two-year anniversary with illness, and I’ve really struggled to write anything at all this year so this is going to be tough for me to write.
730 days have passed since my life changed forever and to be completely honest, some days it doesn’t feel real. Some mornings I wake up and for a fraction of a second I forget my reality is very different to what it used to be, what it should be. Other mornings I wake up realising that now, even my dreams are haunted by my conditions and I cannot even escape my illness when I sleep. But one thing never changes, every morning is hard.
Living with chronic symptoms every day doesn’t get easier, but you do get stronger. The only thing different between myself and a healthy person is that I have lost my health too soon. There’s no built-in coping mechanism that makes it easier to deal with or accept. There’s no part of my brain that thinks what I am feeling is ‘normal’, in fact I live almost everyday wondering if I need to rush myself to hospital because I have no idea whether I’m having a damn stroke or it’s just a new symptom I’ll have to learn to live with.
After two years it doesn’t get easier watching your friends and loved ones doing things you’ve always wanted to; like travelling and exploring the world, finishing their degrees and working their dream jobs, getting married and having children. None of these things are impossible for me, I know that, but they’re so much harder for me to achieve now and that is really hard to swallow. Life isn’t meant to be easy, but is it really meant to be this hard?
Since my one-year anniversary a lot has changed, I now have several diagnoses and more in progress and I have a doctor that is so compassionate and helpful. What I didn’t realise a year ago is that at times having answers actually makes everything scarier, because it is real. There is no ‘hope’ that I was just temporarily insane and would one day be all better with some therapy and yoga. This is now real, and it is permanent.
I need to stop myself from continuing the emotional negativity in this reflection as this blog is ‘finding rainbows in the dark’ not ‘finding darkness in the dark’, plus I think my mental state needs me to find some rainbows during this time, even if I need to use a microscope to do so.
My two-year battle with chronic illness has made me become so much more appreciative of the little things in life. It’s shown me who in my life truly care about me and who I can rely on. It’s made me grow closer to people in my life that I may never have otherwise. I treasure every single relationship I have in my life.
I am so damn proud of myself for starting to live again in the past year. This time last year, I had virtually nothing except for doctors’ appointments and a whole lot of Netflix to pass the time. Over the last 12 months, I’ve slowly reintroduced work, study and activities into my routine.
At first, I tried going back to work as a receptionist, which I wrote about here but unfortunately that didn’t work out. I ended up starting my own little party plan business which has absolutely changed my life, I think it needs its own blog post, so keep an eye out. I started a new degree in Professional Writing and Publishing to improve my writing which I’m slowly getting through when I can. Ironically, I have since been writing less for my blog but I am hoping to make a comeback with my writing from now on. I have also started playing poker which allows me to get out of the house two nights a week and socialise.
While I do struggle to balance these things with taking time to look after myself and rest, it’s so nice to actually be moving forward with my life, albeit slowly, instead of standing (*laying) still while the world kept moving without me. I am living life as much as I can which compared to where I was a year ago, is a huge achievement. Not because I wasn’t doing all I could back then, because believe me I was. It’s also not because I am ‘better’ than I was last year because in fact my symptoms are much worse. It’s a huge achievement for me because I am learning to manage and learning my limits.
Every day is hard, but all in all no matter how hard the day is I always make it through to tomorrow. Even in my worst days where I really just want to give up, I don’t. I need to give myself credit for that because not giving up has been one of my biggest achievements in life.
So today, I’ll cry a silent tear for the girl I once was and the woman I could have been, but I will also give myself praise for the woman I have become in the face of these challenges.
I have lost but I have learnt
I have grieved but I have grown
I have fallen but I have flourished
I have broken down, but I have been brave
Thank you all for your support over the last two years, it means the world to me.
To read last year’s anniversary post, click here