Yesterday I came across an old message I sent to a friend when she was diagnosed with a chronic illness. I kind of wish I read it as I was going through this last diagnosis over these few weeks.
You know how sometimes we are just more kind to others than ourselves? If we took our own advice and were a little nicer, things could be easier? Well, coming across this really was a wake up call to me…
“Firstly, I am sorry to hear that you are going through this at the moment. It is often a rough time being diagnosed but things do get easier.
Hearing the words ‘chronic illness’ can be quite unsettling. The word chronic can really make things harder to digest because you don’t know the course of the illness and it usually means unpredictability.
Even with chronic conditions which are constant you will have good times both physically and mentally and things won’t always be so bleak and holding on to that belief really helped me through the worst periods. It is important to believe it’ll get better.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself during this time. Any period of change in life is difficult and being aware of your limits and what you body can handle is so important. Like pretty much everyone, I went through a tough time with the transition – naturally I wanted to be well and I wanted to do more but it’s important to not compare and to let go of the fact life isn’t going to go smoothly or perfect. I think most people say this but don’t truly understand it until they’ve had something like this throw life off course, you know?
Life with illness can feel like a struggle but you can still have a full life.”
There is a sense of relief and happiness when you get diagnosed. It is a mixed bag of emotion – you know there’s relief that ‘hey there’s something to explain how crap I’ve been feeling and now we know what it is maybe we can do something about it!’ — It is hopeful.
It sinks in and crashes down, the realisation that you wish they figured it out sooner. The wish things didn’t have to be so bad before they discovered it. And for me I wished they listened when asked about it 7 years ago in the doctors’ surgery.
But I guess that’s life, I guess I wouldn’t be here trying to raise awareness and activism for change and money for better research and diagnosis. So I guess I’m grateful for that.
I think trusting our journey is a way we may find peace again.
But I can’t stress the importance of letting yourself be upset and experiencing emotion during this time. The way you feel is justified and it’s okay that things aren’t good right now. We’re allowed to be angry and upset. I kept shutting these emotions down and reinforcing gratitude about how the surgery went well and was worth it – but burying emotions just make them settle longer and caused more anxiety.
I had so many conflicting emotions about how I shouldn’t be upset but grateful but there are times for everything in life and sometimes you need to let yourself be upset and process things.
And it is best to do it now … because it can boil under the surface and spill over later, at a worse time.
When I have become upset lately everything bad seems to be amplified in my mind but we have to remind ourselves that deep down, we know it’s all working itself out.
Receiving diagnosis can throw us off course, but it can and will lead to better things and a better future. But right now it’s okay to grieve what might’ve been.
We will all get there eventually, but right now we’re here and that’s okay.