The Twelve Apostles, a group of limestone pillars off the south coast of Victoria. There are only eight pillars remaining.
Chronic illness wears you down like a rock. Even when you have had good days and you start to think things may be looking better, things may be turning around… there it is again… the feeling of unwell. Drowning in pain and temperature and confusion. No one knows what it is like and the people looking at you can not even tell.
Like a rock, will you be worn down until you become smaller than a grain of sand, until you become nothing?
I know that I was taught to work hard.
I know that I was taught to persist.
I know that I was taught to be tough.
I know that I was taught to strive for success.
I am not sure if I was taught to find enjoyment just for enjoyment’s sake.
I am not sure if I was taught to seek happiness.
I know I was not taught how to deal with obstacles that mess with your mind and your life.
Being an independent person is starting to feel like a problem. Being an independent person has got me used to relying on myself and used to not needing or asking anyone for help. I like being independent. Actually, it is all I know. This is a good trait, yes?
No. Because when you have a chronic illness your body makes it very difficult for you to stay independent. With an unlimited budget, you could do it. But the fact that illness leads to difficulty working means that money is not in abundance. Eventually there will be times when you will need help. With a caring and supportive spouse or family, you could do it. However, many people with chronic illnesses report that their families do not support them how they need, that their illnesses are not trusted as real or that they are spoken about behind their back and called names such as lazy.
Probably even worse is the position that single people with illnesses find themselves in. They need help but don’t know what to do about it. Probably don’t know what to ask for help with and possibly don’t even have anyone to ask.
Illness tends to drive people away. You cannot be relied on anymore, you’re always sleeping or sick or staying home to rest. You aren’t fun anymore, you stopped taking risks and staying out late and being energetic. Pain is a boring topic. A future with you started to look sad and boring and way too much hard work.
There is a cycle happening here. Before you know it you are ill, isolated, lonely and depressed. There’s no surprise then that the chronically ill account for a large percentage of suicides.
Some American stats to ponder, from invisibleillnessweek.com:
– The divorce rate among the chronically ill is over 75 percent.
– Depression is 15-20% higher for the chronically ill than for the average person.
– Physical illness or uncontrollable physical pain are major factors in up to 70% of suicides.