Living with a chronic illness can be hard at times; it can be debilitating and dispiriting. It’s something I have talked about in many of my posts, but something I really touched upon in “When Chronic Illness Gets You Down“.
Despite these struggles, I try not to let it get to me and, though it might be hard sometimes, I never resent my illness, or the struggles that come with it. Keep reading to find out why.
As I write this post, I know that I have it easier than some. I talk to a lot of other people suffering from these types of illnesses from all over the world and, when I listen to some of their stories, I find myself thinking how lucky I am. Lucky that my illness was diagnosed when it was, before it progressed too far to do anything. I find myself grateful that, for the most part, I am still able to lead a normal life, still able to do the things I love and still able to choose how I live. I only wish that my spoonie friends could be in the same position.
That being said, it’s not all been plain-sailing. Recently, I finished university and on Thursday, I received my “confirmation of award classification”. Now, before I reveal what that classification is, let me tell you about my university experience.
At the beginning of first year, I packed up and moved to York ready to start my accounting and finance degree. Besides a few days here and there, my attendance was pretty spectacular and no one was any the wiser to my daily sufferings (other than those I chose to tell). I came through first year with a 1st.
By the time I got to the second semester of second year, I was absent, at least once a week, and morning sessions were becoming increasingly harder to get to – not for the same reasons as other students. I finished second year on a high 2:1, which is still pretty fantastic with the time I had off.
Now, I come to my third and final year. In my first semester, I made it into university for a total of two whole weeks – out of 12! The rest of the time I mostly spent in bed, barely able to move. I continued to keep up with my classes as best as I could from home and I finished that semester with a 2:2. Over Christmas, I moved back home and commuted the two hour journey by train. This was the best decision I made, as I only missed two/three weeks of the semester. However, I still struggled to keep up with deadlines because they were all so close together.
I will let you in on a little secret, I am a perfectionist, and a determined and stubborn one at that. I went to university knowing what I wanted to come out with. The problem? I didn’t account for the effect my chronic illness would have on that experience. The further I got through university, the more my grades were slipping and the less I was enjoying it, the more I just wanted to quit. I spent the best part of the last year and half wanting to drop out, every day. Did I? No, my stubborn self made sure I stuck at it, even while my body was screaming no. Guess what? On Thursday, when I thought I would be graduating a step behind everyone else, I was confirmed a 2:1 Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance. I FREAKING DID IT.
Why did I just tell you all of that? Because it shows that even when you think you can’t do something, there’s always something stronger inside of you telling you that you can. Listen to it.
So…. why don’t I resent my illness? Because despite all the doctors appointments, the hospital appointments, the driving back and forth to physio, the missed time from school and university, the missing out of friends’ plans, the endless amounts of pills and painkillers, the mental, emotional AND physical effects of it all: it’s made me who I am today.
The woman I am today is strong, because of what this illness has put me through. The woman I am today is trusting, because of the reliance on other people to help me through my rough times. The woman I am today is caring and compassionate, because I know the effects of these types of illnesses on both the person suffering, and those around them.
Most of all, my illness has made me who I am today, and I’m proud to be that woman.
You should be proud to be you too.