My chronic illness has turned my life into a tiring, relentless cycle of unproductive nothingness.
I wake up and dread the day ahead. I eat my breakfast, which I am only eating so I don’t feel nauseous after taking my highly addictive anti-inflammatory pain medication. Then it’s a waiting game – waiting for the pain meds to kick in so I can move with some normality. Then it’s time for work, time to hope the day will go smoothly with minimal pain, as I can’t afford to lose my job because I need to pay for my doctor bills, my specialists and the pathology charges. By the time home time comes around I am exhausted and my painkillers have well and truly worn off. No time for fun, family or anything that involves being out of my bed – the only place I don’t feel any pain. A relentless cycle, and the worst part of it all is getting up the next day just to do it all again, like a sad record on repeat, each time going a little slower. The days that are brighter are few and far between, the days the pain subsides just enough to carry out everyday activities like meeting up with friends after work or going out on a Saturday night. The only issue is that these days leave me exhausted and unprepared for the worse ones that are yet to come.
The thing most people don’t realize about chronic pain and illness is that I’m not just dealing with the pain itself, but the results of the pain. The messy bedroom/house, the relationships that fall apart, the lack of fun and enjoyment, the days when it’s just too hard to get out of bed, the days of trying to conceal it at work so as not to lose my job. It’s the prioritizing, the anxiety of not knowing when it’ll end, the depression, the emptiness, the anger and frustration, the lack of sleep and extreme fatigue.
The most frustrating part of chronic illness is the doctor appointments, treatments and false exceptions. Being told “this should have immediate effects” only to wake up the next morning after treatment to find yourself in the same amount of pain you were in yesterday and put back onto painkillers until the doctor thinks of another option. The worst feeling is the unknown, not knowing when and if you are going to get better, not knowing what treatment option is around the corner, not knowing when your next good or bad day will be, if your pain will subside enough to go to that social event.
Chronic pain is not just a condition. It becomes a way of living – not even living, a way of surviving. Always be kind to people because you never know what’s going on in their lives. We all struggle with invisible ailments. We are all stronger than we appear on the surface. If my illness and pain have taught me anything, that would be it.