Category Archives: Chronic Illness

For Those Who Don’t Understand

Living with a mental illness can often be a living hell. Before you try to tell me I’m being dramatic, you should reasses how you view mental illness. The name, in and of itself, says ILLNESS. It’s not a choice I make. I don’t CHOOSE to be depressed. I don’t CHOOSE to be anxious. I don’t CHOOSE to be emotionally unstable. And yet, I am all of those things.  

 I know many people who, although they mean well, simply don’t get it. I’ve been told, “just be happy,” or “stop worrying,” or “can’t you just calm down,” or “just be normal, like everyone else.” The problem with all of these statements is that it completely invalidates who I am and what I feel. What if you told someone with a broken leg to just get up and walk? Unless you’re Jesus, you just sound like an idiot. Same concept.  

 My feelings, while you may not understand them (and don’t worry, because I often don’t understand them either), are just as legitimate as yours. My life might look okay from the outside, so you can’t understand why I feel the way I do. But on the inside, I’m a mess of emotions and chaos. You may not understand my overwhelming fear of being in large crowds or my tendency to completely shut down when I’m upset, but that doesn’t make it any less real. 

We live in a world that caters to healthy people. But when you’re healthy, you don’t realize how true that is. Until you’ve fought a war against yourself, every day of your life, you can’t understand how hard it is to function in a world that isn’t made for you. 

 I’m tired of being ashamed and trying to hide my mental illness. Because you know what, Jesus loves me even with my self-harm scars and anxiety and watery eyes and depression and PTSD and my inability to focus – He loves all of me. And if Jesus isn’t ashamed of my mental illness, then why should I be. 

So next time you meet someone who seems a bit more anxious than you think necessary or more sad than you think they should be, try having some compassion instead of judgement. Those of us with mental illnesses feel our emotions – whether happy or sad, on a much deeper level than most.  

 We’re not trying to make your life more difficult. We’re simply trying to get through life the only way we know how. 


My Life With Chronic Illness

Last year, I was diagnosed with Elhers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). EDS effects my body’s college production and leaves all of my connective tissues – mainly my joints, feeling weak and hypermobile. I’m constantly in pain, and yet I get accused of being whiney or dramatic.   
I have had joint pains my entire life. As a kid, I was told that it was just growing pains. I learned to understand that being in pain was just my normal, and I didn’t know for a long time that it wasn’t normal for everyone. I have already undergone 4 surgeries and have at least 1 more surgery pending. 

  
Most recently, after 6 weeks of intense headaches and random vision disturbances, I went to the eye doctor for a routine eye exam and he sent me straight to the ER. My optic nerves were swollen and bleeding. The last few days have been a whirlwind and I received a diagnosis of pseudotumor cerebri (PTC). With PTC, my brain is essentially reacting like I have a tumor, but there is no tumor. I’ve had two ER visits in the last 48 hours and have lost part of vision (hopefully only temporary). 

  
I feel like there’s something wrong with me. I keep asking why this is happening to me. I ask why I’m in so much pain. But no one can really tell me….it’s just the luck of the draw.

  
Chronic illness and chronic pain are miserable. No one understands it. People think I look fine, so I should feel fine…but most of the time I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. 

  
Today, I’m in incredible pain from a lumbar puncture. I want to feel “normal” and not be in so much pain. I want to function at my normal level or productivity…but I simply can’t. 

  
Some days are good and some days are bad. I feel like my life is like a wheel of future, I never know where it’s going to stop. 

  
I often have to cancel plans with friends because my pain level gets too high. Or I struggle to get out of bed because it hurts to move.

  
So, I ask you to stop thinking I’m whiney or dramatic and understand that my life is much, much different than yours.


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