(Today is Day 2 of a 31 Day series on Surviving Chronic Illness. You can start Day 1 here.)
Over a decade ago I started on a journey I did not choose to take. In fact, if I had known the struggles that this path would take me through, I would have given up before it even began.
Illness. Pain. Sickness. Disease.
It's not a topic people are excited to talk about yet not one of us makes it through this life without being affected by it either through our personal health or the health of a loved one. Or a coworker. Or a neighbor.
If you don't read another line of this 31 Day series I want you to know...
There is hope.
Being ill for long periods of time can make you feel like giving in, giving up. It can make you feel hopeless and forgotten. It can suck the air right out of your lungs leaving you feeling wilted and empty.
But there is hope.
I made it through to the other side, at least for now, it seems. After nearly 13 years of wondering if I would make it through one more day, I'm well on my way to recovery and excited about the future I wasn't sure I would live to see.
But it took several years before they could even put a name to what was ailing me. It took even more years of experimenting with various tests and treatments and doctors prescribing me Prozac because they simply ran out of ideas. Throughout those days, months & years I had to somehow keep moving forward. I had to hope beyond hope that someday I would feel like "me" again. I had to get up every morning and face the day not knowing if I would find the answers I needed to get me back into the land of the living. Because when you're sick over extended periods of time without hope, you aren't living. You're just existing.
So I'm writing this series to tell those of you in the middle of your own struggle with chronic illness, I get it. You don't have to explain yourself to me, I already know a little of the pain you are feeling. For those with loved ones who are ill, I empathize with you. I know how frustrating it can be to want to help but not know what to do or say.
I am not a doctor or a clinician of any kind. I have no special training in pathology, epidemiology or psychology. But I've been sick. God knows, I've been sick to the point of giving up. As difficult as that road was, I learned a few important things along the way that not only brought me hope, they gave me joy. I also met a lot of people who battle disease in their own way and shared their wisdom with me.
People don't like to talk about sickness and to be 100% honest, I don't either. It is a dark phase of my life I'd just as soon forget. But then it would be wasted. All those years of struggle and pain would be a complete waste. I don't want them to be wasted, I want them to count for something. I want those days of suffering that nearly buried me to rise up out of the ground to become an Ebenzer of healing; body, soul and mind.
I want to hand over to you the various keys that unlocked my gateway to wellness. I want you to find the joy in life again. I want you to live and not just exist. I want to give you hope.