Abandonment: it is a word we in the chronic illness community know far too well. Life often times feel like a revolving door of new people entering and exiting our lives. Some are ready to stay but others already having plans to leave right after walking through the door of our lives. We hear the phrase “I will always be here for you” over and over again like a broken record only to find ourselves alone in a hospital room wondering where the people who would ‘always be there’ went.
When illness strikes having a true and caring support system is one of the most important aspects to finding happiness again. About a year after the onset of my illness I met a woman named Chrissy, who was later nicknamed my big sister due to her compassionate and giving nature. Regardless of the fact that Chrissy herself does not suffer from a chronic illness she has stuck by my side through the many trials and tribulations of my health. Coming across people like Chrissy can completely change your outlook on life itself. Because I have found someone who sees everything I am and refuses to let me be anything less it made me see the potential in myself again. To be honest I feel as though I owe the credit of my success and happiness to her.
It is people like Chrissy who made me realize my life wasn’t over because of my illness; a new life had just begun. It’s no secret that chronic illness is a source of stress and its presence also brings the stress of who should I tell and how much should I tell. Those who keep their illness concealed misuse their energy. Those who put their energy into keeping a guard up put even more stress on their lives. We must use our energy to inspire and spread awareness about the every day struggles of our health. The most common causes of illness secrecy are not wanting to be labeled as ‘sick’, not wanting to answer intrusive questions, being hurt over insensitive comments, fear of losing friends, not wanting to be known as a complainer, and being seen as less than due to illness. However, these are the risks we must take in order to uncover support. To be honest I cannot count the amount of people who have chosen to leave due to my illness but as much as it pained me to unearth those who were truly not there for me I never would have found the few that are sincerely here to stay.
After becoming ill I myself faced the question of who to tell and how much to tell. I lost many nights sleep and much fortitude over the stress of simply finding emotional support with my illness. Doctors can try to fix your body but it is within yourself to find those willing to help you fix your mindset. The more I told Chrissy about the struggles of my health the more I realized a true friend is not someone who will be there for only the happy pieces of life, but someone who will love the imperfect you, the confused you, the wrong you, and obviously the sick you. Most importantly I would like to thank Chrissy Sedgley. Thank you for not only being a piece of my life but positively changing my life and building me into the person I was meant to become.