what it is to be unwell
Being sick is a lot of things. It comes in the physical form of strong pain, discomfort, reactions to new medication — all of which seem somewhat to be the easiest part to handle.
But, it’s so much more than that.
It’s the laugh along with your doctor when they exclaim “oh, god you’ve had a rough few years, haven’t you?”, the guilt you feel after when you’ve been trying so hard to not make light of what you’re struggling with. It’s the not wanting to make others feel uncomfortable or burdened by your illness.
It’s the disclaimers you make if you find yourself falling asleep next to someone — “sorry if my stomach makes noises! I can’t help it!”. The hope that they won’t even hear or notice. It’s the moving to the other side of the room and squeeze in sleeping next to someone who knows you better. It’s the way that you don’t feel like you have any ownership over your body because all it’s ever done is actively worked against you.
It’s the fact that you would rather be hungry than not invited somewhere — The hope that someone else will interject when a restaurant that doesn’t cater to your needs gets suggested. It’s having to be called picky, or feeling uncomfortable mentioning to a family member that they’ve cross-contaminated your food so you actually can’t eat anymore. It’s having people comment on your body and eating habits — them saying that you’re lucky you got diagnosed with an under-active thyroid so young.
It’s the constant questions about what will happen to you if you get a reaction. “Could you die from it, or just get a bit sick?” — Why are they the only two options? And then feeling guilty for complaining when you know you can’t die from it.
It’s the taking six years to be upset about/cry about the fact that this is your life, because up until that point, you just had to be okay with it.
It’s the staying positive about everything firstly for everyone else around you, and then yourself . It’s the weird feeling in your brain when in a conversation with someone and you just know that they have no idea the amount of pain you’re in.
It’s the fact that when someone asks you what you look for in a future partner, you say “Oh, I hope they are respectful and take time to care about my health problems”, as if that shouldn’t be the bare minimum. It’s making excuses for people when they say ignorant things — the not knowing how to respond when people say “I’d just eat gluten anyway!”.
It’s how you would wipe down every countertop or piece of cutlery you were using, which has now turned into a bit of a cleaning problem.
It’s the feeling of guilt when you have a good day. It’s the not knowing when you’ll have another one again.
It’s thinking of yourself as wholly undesirable to others, and developing a lot of trust issues. It’s feeling like you need to disclose everything that’s going on inside of you early into meeting them, because it gives them a better basis to make a judgement call on you.
It’s the fear that you’re just going to get worse.
I am not entirely my health issues. I know I am so much more. I ultimately like the person that my auto-immune diseases have made me become.
It’s the understanding that you can be all the things you are, and still sick.