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Why Many People with Chronic Illness Hate to be Known as ‘Sick’
From reading articles online, I’m aware that many of us with chronic illnesses don’t like to be known as sick or weak. No human being does, really. There are many reasons why one might dislike the association with their illness, such as:
- We are more than our illnesses; we are human beings with individuality.
- Associating and repeating to ourselves that we are sick leads us to believe that as the ultimate truth, and thus remain ‘stuck’ in that state. (Read: This Is The Only Type Of Brain Training That Works, According To Science)
- Labels and thus judgment of any sort are not cool.
- You hate being treated differently or being known as the weakest of the group.
There are many more reasons, but these are common themes that I see.
My Own Struggles with Self-Identity as a Teenager
I struggled with this sick person identity as a young adult, and tried to be as ‘normal’ as I could. I was competitive and strove to be the strongest physically, mentally and emotionally.
I was the girl who’d carry the extra load, went on for longer or pushed myself to be faster, and never shed a tear in public. I was even the physical training instructor of my NPCC group (National Police Cadet Corps) in school. It might have be a struggle, but I was still physically able to do 500 push ups and sit ups during training camps.
Even when I suffered my first major health blow via a near-deadly clot in the lung due to multiple DVTs, I toughed it out in the hospital for months with only panadol as painkillers. To put things into perspective, that’s the worst pain I’ve experienced to date, and I did it in part to prove my ‘strength’.
Turning Weakness Into Strength Through Acceptance
But what is strength when the pain is chronic? When you’re in it for the long term? When you’re running a marathon, not a sprint? I learned over the span of a decade how ridiculous I was being. The point is to pace myself so that I can stay in the game of life, and to even maybe end it on a good note.
There’s this quote by Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf from Game of Thrones, that’s one of my all time favourites:
“Let me give you some advice, bastard. Never forget what you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour, and it can never be used to hurt you.”
It resonates with me because it’s so true. What happens when you finally learn to accept a perceived weakness, is that it transforms into a strength. It loses its power and no one can ever use it to hurt you again, whether intentional or otherwise.
Oh the Things We Can Do as a Person with Chronic Illness
If you’d like to take it a step further, put on that armour and step into battle; there’s a lot of advocacy work left to be done, and every person on our side counts. There’s still so much that science doesn’t understand about our bodies, and still so much pain that medicine can’t fix.
But in the meantime, we can work on clearing misunderstandings and misconceptions the public and even doctors have about us as patients. We can work on sharing the reality of our experiences, and speak up for those who can’t or aren’t ready to do so yet. We can remind others of what it means to be human, and how to behave like a decent one.
We can lead by example, because we are sick. A strange opportunity if you would; your words or actions wouldn’t have as much power if you were healthy, because you don’t live the reality of it. Experience after all, is the best form of credibility. Your scars tell a story of survival.
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I am grateful that I still have the ability and capability to give despite my perceived lack, in whatever small measure I can. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #AChronicVoice #spoonie #SpoonieLife #spoonies #InvisibleIllness #awareness #MentalHealth #MentalIllness #ChronicIllness #ChronicLife #ChronicPain #disability #health #SelfCare #SelfAwareness #SelfReminder #grateful #gratitude #thankful #QOTD #InspirationalQuotes #privilege #generosity #giving #humanity #BeKind #charity
The Opportunities that Blogging has Brought About
Over the last few years, I’ve been blogging and posting to my social media accounts every single day. Sometimes I’d hit the schedule limit in Buffer, and would have to consider what to remove. There’s just too much important information to share, and stories waiting to be heard.
If people around me never knew that I was sick or just how much chronic illness impacts my life, well now they do. When I made the decision to start blogging about it, I walked in well aware of this, and I was ready. Ready to forever be known as ‘the sick girl’, and to reveal private aspects of my life for illustrative or referential purposes.
What Being Known as ‘The Sick Girl’ Has Done
As a result, all sorts of people have approached me. Friends, family and acquaintances often come to me when they need a referral to a good doctor, or advice on some strange symptom. Others with chronic illness whom I’ve met online have become friends.
Others whom I never knew were ill or those who were recently diagnosed, approach me for advice or a listening ear. In the words of one young lady whom I spoke with, not even her mother could understand the pain or grief associated with being forever ill.
Isn’t it amazing how you can be so useful even though you might not have been able to get out of bed today, or for the past month or year? You can take that unwanted identity and transform it into a lighthouse for those who are suffering; for those who don’t know where to turn to, or whose positions you were in once. You have the power to take a supposed negative identity, and turn it into a useful one.
Sometimes people whom I haven’t spoken with in years approach me simply to get something out of me, and I don’t even mind anymore. Because I understand what pain is, and if there’s something being ill has taught me, it’s to have a little empathy. At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to live our best lives, and if I have the ability to change something for the better, then I should.
*Note: This article is for educational purposes, and is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding new treatment protocols.
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