For those of us who struggle with chronic illness, there are many different challenges that each of us face. However, the most frustrating part can be when those around us, or those we love, don’t seem to understand or get what we are dealing with. Sometimes, the only ones who can truly understand what it is that we go through or feel are the people who share similar journeys throughout this life. These are things only those with chronic illness understands this.
21 Things Only Those with Chronic Illness Understands
- Carrying a “Mary Poppins” bag wherever you go with you. After all, you have to pack your medicines, a water bottle, snacks, a jacket, etc… After all, it’s nice to have coping strategies that only those with chronic illness understands.
- Having a nightstand that looks like a pop-up pharmacy. I mean, just because we have all these medicines doesn’t mean we take them everyday; some are as needed you know.
- Going without sleep and being in pain for days on end should be added as an Olympic Sport, because seriously?! This ish is tough! Like everyone with chronic illness understands and knows.
- No. Watching Netflix all the time is really not as much fun as it seems. Truthfully, it’s actually enough to drive someone crazy. So maybe people should stop asking me about this….
- If going to the doctor’s would be a competition, and the more you go the more you win; we would be reigning champions by now, but still might not even have a diagnosis.
- We have mastered the art of online research, but not turning into hypochondriacs despite popular belief.
- Being in pain; like all the time. Just because we don’t complain about it 24/7 doesn’t mean we are hurting, it just might mean it is at a level where we can somewhat function. Like those chronic illness understands, plus, who wants to hear someone complain all the time?
- Having to pick and choose between things and activities because of energy or pain. For example, do the laundry or take a shower? Hmm… decisions, decisions…those with chronic illness understand and get it!
- Only making it to the couch and calling it a good day. Cause’ hey, some days get really, really bad, and the physical effort to get from our beds to the couch is a lot harder and more painful that most people realize. So on a bad day, that’s a big win to have forced ourselves out of the comfort of our beds and to the couch!
- The paradigm that is exercise. We need to exercise to keep our bodies moving and from getting worse. However, if we do too much, or do the wrong thing, we could send our bodies tailspinning and end up needing to recover for days on end; losing any progress that could have been made, in addition to adding more pain as someone with chronic illness understands
- Always having to wait until the last minute to let others know if you can go out for sure or not. It’s never a matter of not wanting to, but we all know that our bodies are fickle little beasts and can change quickly so planning events out ahead of time is always a guessing game.
- Shopping, especially groceries, is a marathon race. Having a list is imperative, otherwise you will inevitably forget what you need or miss something important. You try and go as fast as you can, while going slowly, to then race home, unpack only the cold items, and then promptly collapse and not move for the next few hours, or days really.
- The epic judgment from everyone we always seem to get. Sometimes it’s outright and other times subtle and indiscreet. Maybe I’m being starred on some sort of new show like “Undercover Pageant”? Maybe? No? Then stop judging me.
- Everyone acting like my doctor and giving advice to a chronically ill person. Can we make a new law that states every time someone tries to give us unsolicited advice we are allowed to smack them with no penalty? No? Yeah, it probably wouldn’t go over very well.
- Trying to take a shower without dying in the process or afterwards. Showers can be so exhausting and energy-sucking, but are so necessary…. Isn’t it a shame that we can’t just shuck off our skin like our clothes and throw it in the washer and dryer and it be all clean?
- Having doctors not take you seriously. For some reason, most doctors don’t seem to believe us when we honestly answer how much we are in pain or list all of our symptoms. Like, yes, this is real; definitely not lying here.
- Learning the art of lying and saying that you are “okay” or “fine” when really you are actually in a lot of pain. We just have to smile and push through it, and everyone around us has no clue except, those with chronic illness. Those with chronic illness understands.
- Real talk here; the struggle with depression. Life with chronic pain is hard, painful, and never seems to end; so depression is a real thing that most of us either have, fight with, or continually watch out for. This is nothing to be ashamed for, but rather proud of as battle scars that we bear and wear as proof that we are amazing and survivors of chronic pain.
- The opioid epidemic. It seems that most of us are caught in between a rock and a hard place. Do we get a high level pain medicine that has all these side effects, can be addictive, and can make our condition more dependent but could potentially help reduce our pain and actually make us humans?
- Drifting away and being distant from friends and family. Not by choice, but because relationships become strained by the constant push and pull of balancing your health and the juggling act that is dealing with the physical pain and the mental toll it takes as someone with chronic illness understands
& The 21st Thing that only those with chronic illness understands
#21 Being Superman, the Charmed Ones, Batman, or whichever superhero/crimefighter is your favorite. Every day we wake up and fight our demons, but no one else knows or sees it. We are warriors and super-heroes is our own rights; and that’s something only those with chronic illness understands.
Hopefully, you enjoyed these twenty-one examples of things that only those with chronic illness understands! and remember as someone with chronic illness understands that this fight is worth fighting because, it is your fight.
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I am a 22 year old young professional who suddenly became seriously ill during my senior year of college. I have been struggling with my chronic illness, debilitating migraines, POTS, and searching for a diagnosis; all while attempting to move forward for almost three years now. It’s been a long hard journey, but I have learned much and gained significant insight into suffering with chronic illness and pain, dealing with both supportive/un-supportive family and friends, and even the pros and cons of having an emotional support dog. It’s not easy; but that just means you have to look a little harder for the humor and silver linings (one of favorite movies btw!)