This week I want to share something that is personal to me and is something many people have a hard time understanding. I have a chronic illness- a silent stalker that I never know when it may pounce. An illness that causes many bad days and, at times, leaves me practically bedridden with fatigue and pain. I push on through as best I can – I fight the fatigue that overwhelms me, I down copious amounts of over-the-counter painkillers to get through the demands of day-to-day life. I have been on an endless list of prescription medications that either made the issues worse or did nothing at all. I am a busy mother of two who is in school full time pursuing a double bachelors degree to not only help my family advance further but also to serve others and make a difference in their lives. Many who are aware of my condition have never been able to comprehend it. I got the usual “You don’t look sick” comments and pushed harder by employers that feel my condition is just an excuse not to get 110% done. I have Fibromyalgia- a condition that causes widespread pain, fatigue, “brain fog,” and a myriad of other issues that can come on with little to no warning. I have had this condition since I was a young child. Some days I have a decent day with low pain levels (and when I say low, I mean a 6-7 on the pain scale doctors use) and although fatigued, I at least manage to push through part of my to-do list. People with Fibromyalgia suffer from what is caused “flares”- periods of time where symptoms are most active and debilitating. In fact, I am in the midst of one particularly nasty one right now. I have only been out of bed to go to the restroom and grab a bite to eat. Just doing that has been exhausting.
But, in spite of all this, I wake up every day, and I start my day with expressing gratitude. Gratitude for what I do have- my family, my spirituality, even my coffee. I greet the sun, I hug my cat and remind myself of what I am pressing towards. I have hope- the hope that one day, I will find what works for me and pass it on so that others may have another option in their battle. In the meantime, I keep researching; I keep trying different therapies, I keep smiling. I keep reaching out and encouraging others whether in person or through my writing.
We all have a special purpose in this life and we all a very special in our own unique way. Find what makes you smile-what makes you feel whole and loved. Whether it’s a good book, community service, or a walk on the beach- embrace self-love and love of community. Know that you are not alone in your journey and that there is always hope no matter how dim your circumstances seem. Are you or a loved one living with a chronic illness? What treatments have you/they tried? I would love to hear about them in the comments!