I’m sure anyone with a chronic illness has heard the phrase “you are always ill” spouted at you as though you’re doing it on purpose or perhaps, “you should do something about that,” as though you don’t already. I think it is hard for people who don’t have one to understand sometimes and in turn I understand why. The concept of feeling ill most of the time doesn’t quite compute if you don’t live with it. I’ve been called boring more times than I can count because I have to conserve energy for the most important things in my life. I’ll go home early from nights out just because I don’t have the energy to waste if I’m not 100% enjoying it. I’d rather keep that energy for a seminar the next day.
However, in honesty, those people who can dance all night make me jealous. I hate that I cannot do that, I hate that I’m told “just try a little harder” as though that would work. My body just can’t handle it and those kinds of negative thoughts filter into a whole new realm of body hate. Jealousy is the main emotion I have to fight. I remember I couldn’t do P.E at school without embarrassingly collapsing so I ended up not doing it. I wanted to scream at those people who skipped it because they didn’t like it. I wanted to tell them they were ungrateful because they had bodies that worked and mine didn’t.
I had body image issues from a young age and not being able to exercise took a serious toll. I wanted to be fit and I wanted to be healthy but I felt trapped in a hole of illness that I couldn’t escape. It was easy to hate my body. I wanted to lose weight but I couldn’t because I was too ill. That is how eating became my main form of control; the only thing I could control. The scariest thing for me is the fact that my illness is ultimately uncontrollable sometimes. As a control freak, that is a source of stress to me. I wake up in the morning and just settle into seeing how my body is feeling because I will never know the night before. I just pray I’m feeling well enough to go about my daily life.
My biggest fear can be that I will one day end up completely alone. I fear that friends can only cope with you missing things for so long until they move on or think you’re being difficult. I fear that partners can only take so much until they want to be with the fun girl who can do all the things you can’t. Those are some of the darkest parts of my thoughts, which I try to dispel.
The toughest part is simply that I want to like my body. I remind myself that my brain, my personality, my talents all come from my body as well. It is a scientific way to look at it but it helps. It helps me not to have a separate body and soul. To me, I simply am my body and it is everything I have. I love my hands so I can draw, my vocal chords so I can sing, my eyes so I can see. I remind myself that I like who I am and that I don’t want to be someone else. That everyone has issues even if you don’t see them or hear about them. My favourite Stephen Hawking quote sums this up perfectly: “However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there is life, there is hope.”