Tuesday, 28 March 2017

My Experience of Chronic Illness in my Relationship

I sit here writing this after just returning home to my partner after spending our first 4 days apart since I got sick last June.

The past week I have developed a further infection, which has left me with zero energy, muscle aches, fever and sickness on top of my usual "everyday" symptoms I deal with due to gastroparesis and the "unknown" conditions! As you can only imagine due to the pain, exhaustion and emotions are all running rather high.

I  am sure I am not the first to admit, living with a chronic illness I regularly have break downs over everything, as well as nothing!

Too often I get in a state of feeling so overwhelmed by it all, I mean who's right was it to come swooping in my life and take away everything I had known so well to be living in constant uncertainty, living in the unknown and most of all living in a state of constantly being tired, frequently being in severe pain... I am over it all.

Secondly, I miss working, having a life and being a true control freak in life (there -I said it!). I hear comments from both strangers and loved ones "it must be so nice not working Claire!" The truth of the matter is, there is nothing like going out to work, being paid a well-earned salary, spending your money on things you can look forward to and enjoying relaxing, because well, you "deserve it". Despite never wanting to jump out of my bed with joy for heading to work on a  Monday morning, I did always appreciate having a succesful job, that I could succeed in, and strive in my career.

Lastly, mix in all the ordinary issues that we face in life, such as money issues, relationship problems, bills, career decisions, all lead to an outcome that fills the impossible task trying NOT to have a breakdown.

With these regular outbursts, which usually contain at least one, if not all of the above issues, living with my boyfriend, equals him getting the grunt of it! The poor guy has put up with this for close to a year now, tirelessly being there for me day-in-day-out (well as I said minus two/three days here and there!)

I have mentioned it before, but it is easy to forget about the way that chronic illness affects those around you, and particularly in this case, through these breakdowns I often forget the affect it has on him.

Through the ups and downs that come hand-in-hand with having a chronic illness, life is damn right exhausting, as we all know oh so well. Our partners are the ones who have to witness us in pain, (and often excruciating for that matter!) support us through numerous hospital appointments, undergo our rather odd eating patterns and diets. They are along for the journey with us, often making a lot of many of the same steps as us along the way.

Ultimately, the most ugly side they have to endure of us is the person who we become when experiencing these breakdowns, who is too often tired, fed up and emotions are running wild. While sometimes there is a blame on the vast amount of medication I am on, which let's face it -is bound to cause havoc with our emotions consuming so many altering types of medication daily.

Chronic illness affects my relationship in so many ways I cannot describe. There have been nights he has spent easing me while I am unwell yet still goes off to work in the morning, and I have the opportunity to sleep in. Although, it's me that suffers with the sickness and pain, my boyfriend also goes through it with me, stunned and trying his best to help, running round hospitals after doctors or nurses whilst I am sick all over the place.  I have read people do not agree with sympathising if the partner is unable to handle it; truthfully, I feel so bad for the guy for having to also suffer with the chronic illness along side me. As well as meeting with someone new, who when they are fed up and having a breakdown becomes irritated, snappy and emotional mess.

Through it all, in becoming the "The Hopeful Chronic" I have learnt to express my gratitude and thanks to my number one support. There are so many times he has had, and will have to cook meals for me, yet never complains when all his time and effort is shortly wasted, when the meal repels back up soon after. Or, there has also been occasions of food being presented to me, only for me to not eat it after all due to feeling so nauseated to even contemplate eating it. He manages to heat up my hot water bottle 100 times a day. Ignores stained washing to save my pride. And my favourite of all- he gives me hugs when I am needy of attention or just generally feeling down due to this illness. Despite it all, he shows me love and compassion with no complaints or even so much as three days break!

I know for me personally, I experience pity from various people in my life including my doctors, nurses, friends and family- we always consider the person dealing with the illness; but what about the partner who sticks around with me throughout all that comes with chronic illness?! Everyone shows me love and compassion, and I get to rest, without too much complaints, yet what about my poor other half? (Yes I even get treated to flowers (photo above) when we experience crappy hospital appointments!!)

He keeps me strong, and is a reminder to me everyday, that I refuse to let this illness rule our relationship.
Everyone has moments of weakness, self-doubt and fear for the future, particularly living with chronic illnesses and the "unknown" it can be tough to wrap your head around and comprehend. But it's important to live with self-confidence, after my breakdowns have had their moment I remind myself that I am indeed incredible, strong and determined young lady.

I end this post with asking you to reflect on those also living this illness with you, who have never doubted your relationship to them, constantly there beside you every step of the way.. Show some gratitude to them, even just simply by saying "thank you" can go a long way. 
"The Hopeful Chronic"

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