As a chronically ill patient, Shannon has a lot of experience with illness overall. This gives her a unique perspective on writing articles.
Being chronically ill has its own set of challenges. There are the cold hard facts: your immune system is abnormal and attacks pretty much anything it wants; it’s built into your genetics that your body doesn’t produce enough collagen; or maybe your unique brain chemistry makes you have some pretty severe mood swings and depressive states. Whatever the situation, there is likely a host of other issues you deal with ranging from your own personal guilt to an absent or ignorant support system.
But no matter what, there are some things that you shouldn’t have to apologize for. Here are the things I refuse to apologize for anymore.
I don’t feel like it.
No, I’m not lazy and I’m not using it as an excuse. Chronic fatigue is exhausting and sometimes I am just way too beaten down to plow through it. I don’t care to hear about how tired someone else is either; fatigue, like pain, is subjective. And, I’ve been in both for a long time.
I take anti-depressants.
They aren’t happy pills and they don’t change my personality. They make my normal easier to handle so I don’t walk out into traffic. Anti-depressants aren’t bad, they help provide balance when your mind that gets out of whack because of bad things or illness and it doesn't resolve easily or quickly. Being chronically ill is one long, crappy bad thing that you have to learn to cope with. Sometimes, that involves anti-depressants and nothing is wrong with that.
I take a lot of medications.
I’m sorry if that’s upsetting, but I’m sick. I was sick yesterday, I still am today, and I’ll be tomorrow. I probably will be for the rest of my life. That means that medications will be a part of my life. I’m afraid that it’s a package deal. I won’t make light of it or lie to ease someone else’s discomfort anymore. Nor will I dwell on it.
I will not put on a happy face.
Having to fake emotions and moods can be really tiring and takes up valuable energy that is needed elsewhere. I’m tired of doing it—I can’t do it anymore. There’s a finite amount of energy in me and I’d rather spend it on something I enjoy instead of making someone else more comfortable around me by faking it.
Most importantly, I’m going to have fun.
Let me rephrase that: I will not, under any circumstances, apologize for enjoying life. Many people assume that chronic illness = chronic, never ending despair. And it could, but I choose not to let it. When possible I will do things I enjoy. I will work towards a goal even if it seems out of reach, and I will fight to have some of the same enjoyment that others do. I deserve it.
What do you refuse to apologize for? Many people have this stereotype in mind when it comes to chronic illness and there’s nothing cut and dry about being sick. It’s okay to enjoy life. It’s okay to go away for the weekend, or make a weekend at home that you’ll remember. You’re allowed to do things to take care of yourself, like take supplements or prescription anti-depressants. And it’s totally okay to be honest about how you’re feeling, even if someone else doesn’t like it.
The fact is that you and your body have been together for a long time and you’ll be together until the day you die. One of your very top priorities needs to be to take care of yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. So I ask again: what do you refuse to apologize for?
Be well, and enjoy life.