The inconvenient truth of chronic illness

There is a very obvious difference in these two photos, there's no denying it. What may come as a surprise to you is that I felt pretty damn terrible the day the second photo was taken. That's the thing about chronic illness, sometimes it can be very visible but other times, people have no idea what you are really going through. People living with chronic illness become very good at hiding things. Hiding their pain (both physical and mental), their fatigue, their embarrassment, the list goes on. We don't want to appear weak, but at the same time we want people to understand that we can’t always be strong.

In the first photo I felt like I was dying and to be fair, I came very close to it. It was taken January 2016 a few days before I ended up in hospital with sepsis infection spreading through my body. I couldn't walk, I could barely breathe, I had accepted death and I thought well ‘this is it’. The doctors said if I had come a few days later I may not have made it. I am certain in saying that this was the worst time of my life. The second photo was taken a few months later. I was doing so much better, but was still suffering from extreme fatigue and didn't feel very well that day. It was the first time I'd been out in a while and I was going to the races with my friends. I woke up feeling nauseous, which was so disappointing because I had been looking forward to going out all week. I pushed through like I usually do but I ended up leaving early as I thought I was going to pass out. Anyone who saw me probably thought I was okay, and I kept saying I was fine, even though I wasn't.

This is just one of the many struggles of living with a chronic illness. I used to hate talking about it but at the same time felt like I had to validate to people that I really was sick. It's so hard sometimes when you look okay on the outside but you're struggling to keep it together on the inside. I'm working hard to let my family and friends know how I'm going. I have a bad habit of pushing people away because I don't want them to deal with my problems, but I realise now that's only making life harder for myself. If people understand what I'm going through then I don't have to hide how I'm really feeling, because they might be able to understand it better. All I can do is take life one day at a time. I'm really happy and grateful right now for the life that I have. I feel blessed to be surrounded by supportive people that care so much about me it's what's kept me going these past two years. I hope this gives a little bit of insight and reminds you to not judge because everyone is fighting a battle whether you can see it or not.

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