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Call Me Sick Girl (Or How to Make Your Weakness Your Strength)

Call Me Sick Girl (Or How to Make Your Weakness Your Strength) | www.achronicvoice.com

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:

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.

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.

Read More: I May be Chronically Ill, but I’m Also Chronically Resilient

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Many with chronic illnesses don't like to be identified by their sickness. Here's why I want people to know that I am, and how to turn it into a strength. Click to read or pin to save and share. ////////// Chronic Illness / Spoonies / Mental Health / Self Worth & Identity / Young Adults / Sickness #ChronicIllness #MentalHealth #Spoonies #perspective

Many with chronic illnesses don't like to be identified by their sickness. Here's why I want people to know that I am, and how to turn it into a strength. Click to read or pin to save and share. ////////// Chronic Illness / Spoonies / Mental Health / Self Worth & Identity / Young Adults / Sickness #ChronicIllness #MentalHealth #Spoonies #perspective

Many with chronic illnesses don't like to be identified by their sickness. Here's why I want people to know that I am, and how to turn it into a strength. Click to read or pin to save and share. ////////// Chronic Illness / Spoonies / Mental Health / Self Worth & Identity / Young Adults / Sickness #ChronicIllness #MentalHealth #Spoonies #perspective

6 comments

  • LOVE THIS SHERYL! It’s so difficult to find a healthy balance between being the sick person (listening to our bodies, raising awareness, using mobility aids, taking meds, going to doctor appointments, etc) and being you, the person behind the illness (your personality, your likes and dislikes, your friends and family, your job or hobby, etc). Sometimes I tend to be stubborn and ignore my chronic pain which leads me to a flare or crash. But other times I’m just sick and tired of being sick. It’s difficult but we gotta except ourselves and just be ourselves. There is nothing to feel ashamed about and it’s a part of us.

    • Thanks Kirsten! This is a quote that really inspires me, the wise little dwarf 🙂 I think achieving that balance is something we all struggle with, even if we were healthy, what more when ill! But definitely important to try and aim for every day that’s possible. Sending good thoughts! x

  • I really loved this post. Kudos to your courage and work. I also loved that quote you shared. It is so very true as I have experienced in my own life. It was lovely reading you.

    • Thank you so much for reading, Rachna! Am really glad it resonates with you, and hope it gives you a little bit of inspiration 🙂

  • Such an important message. We are more than our health conditions but it is also OK for them to be a part of us.

    • Thanks Rachel! Yes totally agree. There are many perspectives to it, and finding peace with each one is key in order to thrive, and also to put a face to it.

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