By Amber Hosea
I am disabled. It wasn’t until this year that I started to accept that, and realize that my illness (or rather illnesses) is here to stay. This year I was diagnosed with a systemic autoimmune disease known as Sjogren’s syndrome.
I won’t lie, this illness is a cruel one. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to feel from one day to the next. I had a hunch a few years ago that I probably had an autoimmune disease since my entire body seemed to be under attack. I’ve been diagnosed with illnesses like interstitial cystitis and fibromyalgia, but I didn’t want to believe that I couldn’t cure them. I tried every remedy I could, but over time my health was only getting worse. I was angry that no matter how much willpower I had or how much money I spent, I couldn’t get well. I was angry at other people for being able to take their health for granted. Most of all, I was angry at myself for the guilt I felt and the need to apologize over and over again for being sick.
I recently decided that I will no longer be apologizing for not being able to do what I was once able to. Saying the words “I’m sorry” implies that I have control over my debilitating symptoms. I think we carry this guilt with chronic illness because we feel we’ve somehow brought it on ourselves. I can no longer apologize or feel guilty for not being able to make plans, or for being unable to work, or even brush my hair sometimes. It’s not my fault. I spent so much time trying to convey what it’s like to be ill to others, and I avoided the fact that I wasn’t willing to accept my limitations. I refused to believe it wasn’t going to get better.
Now, for my sanity, I have to mourn my former life and simply let it go. I’m releasing that energy into the universe so it no longer weighs me down. I know firsthand that chronic illness can break your heart over and over again, and there’ll be days when you feel as though the loneliness will shatter you into a million pieces, but I would like to remind you that it’s not your fault. I know that you’re simply doing the best you can.
I didn’t want to accept how sick I was because it felt like giving up, when in reality learning to accept my limitations and let go of the guilt has been the best thing for me. It’s allowing me to start over.
I’d like to believe that I’ve been given this illness for a reason. Whether it’s to educate people about this disease, or to learn a lesson about myself, or hell maybe it’s just that I’m tough enough to take the beating. Whatever the reason, I’m learning to embrace it. Who knows, maybe I’m turning into a superhero. I mean, my body does do things that a “normal” body doesn’t.
Yeah, that’s probably it. I’m a superhero.