Thursday, 9 March 2017

Chronic Illness Life Lesson Number One - Relationships

In this first post of an ongoing series exploring the life lessons I have learnt through being diagnosed with my chronic illnesses, I wish to talk about relationships. I imagine this will be a post that it is candid and to the point, as quite honestly, if there's anything that can throw a wrench in a relationship with family or friends, it's a chronic illness.

An important lesson, that I am so glad I have learnt at the ripe age of 21 years old, is that not all friends are actually your friends. When enduring a chronic illness, it truly puts your relationships to the test-you really learn who gives a damn about you, and who will stick by you through all the crap (or in my case lack thereof!!) and who well, simply won't - which as tough as it is to let people go, you quickly come to realise that it is actually best for everyone and you will be so much happier for it.

Illness tends to bring out the best and worst in people. You quickly find out how amazing some of your friends and family actually are. On your good days, there could be a number of people willing to do things with you and be genuinely happy to see you. Although, experiencing a chronic illness you soon realise that it is all about the people standing with a hot water bottle, and easing you while you are being sick/in pain, on your bad days they are actually the people you want in your life. In some cases, some of those people who will be there for you are the ones you may have never predicted.

I have spent so many years of my life trying to please other people, keeping them happy, focusing on keeping a relationship strong, doing things for others that maybe I didn't really want to do. Yet when you have a very limited supply of energy and your symptoms are unpredictable, you quickly come to realise who is indeed worth spending that time and energy on.

Another point I should note when on the topic of relationships, is that although it is sometimes hard to see the bigger picture, that you are not the only one fighting this battle. I always remember that my partner is living with this disease too. Life hasn't only dramatically changed for me, it has dramatically changed for him also. He went from being my boyfriend to being my care giver. He has made some tremendous scarifies and but has stood by my side every step of the way; which, as a couple that were only just adjusting to living with each other when I began to get ill, is a true test of strength.

Some days are better than others, which is inevitable when living with a chronic illness, due to this  there are times when all you want to do is feel angry/guilty/frustrated/sad/afraid, and that is ok. We didn't wish this upon ourselves to swoop in and throw away our ability for a normal day-to-day life. However, the key here is that it is so important to have a support network around you that can be there for you and understand these emotions are to be expected. As I mentioned earlier, I can now say hand-on-heart that the people I consider within my support network have certainly proved their commitment and love for me and I consider myself so incredibly lucky to have these people in my life to be there despite the embarrassing moments, to keep me strong, and focused on my recovery and happiness. I am forever grateful for these sweet souls who continue to stand by my side.

Understanding the implications of having a chronic illness is very tough indeed, and one I am still on a learning process of myself. It most certainly requires a strong support network around you, if you don't feel you have anyone to talk to, please message me.

'The Hopeful Chronic"

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