I wrote this months ago, attached to this photo and found it while I was attempting to organize my virtual life. At the time I was going through a bad flare-up. I can't wait for a day when the stigma attached to chronic illness isn't holding so many of us back in life. The more we talk, the more awareness, knowledge and empowerment we can spread.
It's 3am and I can't sleep because I'm in so much pain, I feel nauseous. By the time the anti-emetics kick in and I'm actually able to take pain killers, it will be hours before I'm comfortable enough to sleep. I could opt to go to the emergency department and wait an hour or two (or more) for a doctor to deliberate whether I truly need medication, while I throw up in their public washrooms and sit in their uncomfortable chairs. It's a gamble every time I go because some doctors will listen when I say, this is what's going on in my body and this treatment will help me the most because I have dealt with chronic illness for over 10 years. Some won't. To add to the weight of my decision I will have to wake up my family, who have social commitments and work. Who will run on 4 hours of sleep and turn life upside down for me to feel better. All for health professionals to condescendingly say, their time is limited, while I politely ask questions.
This is what it's like to be chronically ill. You are not lazy or worthless. You are not faking or overreacting. It's easy to feel these things because we're taught to. Society continues to reinforce stereotypes surrounding chronically ill and disabled people.
Because I have been perceived as "too happy" to be chronically ill. Because I have been labelled careless or dismissive when I couldn't devote more time to social commitments. Because when people learn I'm chronically ill they tell me "it could be worse". Because teachers and employers have been truly ignorant about chronic pain and how it affects my abilities. Because when I have "time off" due to my chronic illness people tell me I'm "lucky". Please believe me when I say that no person living with chronic illness is lucky or would choose this life.
Don't ever for one second feel like less of a person because of your illness. You are here and allowed to take up space in this world even though you are sick. You can live a fulfilling life and do all the things you want to, it just takes some modification.
I would love to hear your experience with chronic illness and the stigma attached to it. If you need any guidance or advice feel free to send me a message or leave a comment. Much love and strength.