I’ve been dealing with health issues almost my entire life. From mental health problems like anxiety and depression, to chronic illnesses and injuries, it seems like I’ve never been fully ‘healthy’. More often than not I feel like a complete burden on those around me, and it doesn’t help to know that the majority of my acquaintances don’t believe me or think they can “cure” me (or, in some cases hint that I’m just not praying hard enough).
Although many disregard my pain or health issues, I do have a great support system and they have gotten me through so many bad times. I am beyond fortunate to have the family that I have. Without them I know for sure that I would not be here today.
My husband, in particular, has gotten me through more trauma and pain than he ever had to. When we were dating there were so many times that I would have left myself if I had been in his shoes, but he stuck by me. He was the pillar that gave me strength. When I was at my wit’s end and felt like I had nothing to live for, he showed me the light at the end of the tunnel. Hell, most of the time he was the light at the end of the tunnel.
Although I know that he has been frustrated and has felt helpless multiple times, he’s never shown it. Watching me suffer and not being able to really do anything about it has been hard on him – I know it has. Yet, he’s never made any of my illnesses or injuries about himself. He’s only ever shown me love and empathy and kindness.
This last experience with the surgery and hospital stay took him well beyond his comfort zone. As a fairly squeamish person, he didn’t let his discomfort show as a tube drained fluid from my stomach through my nose, or as another tube drained fluid from around my stomach into a container safety-pinned to the band of my pants. (Although one time he did tell me how grateful he was that I was able to drain said container so he didn’t have to…) He knew I was suffering and didn’t want to add to it.
But the great thing is that when there are things that he just can’t handle, I’m not left to handle them on my own. I always know that I can count on family members, like my mom and sister and others, to step in and take over where he leaves off. They are here whenever we need them and ready to step in when he just needs a break.
For instance, he really likes his outside time and needs a lot of it. For almost a solid week he was stuck in a hospital room with me and had none of it. When I came home my mom and sister took over my care so that he could go out with his friends and play disc golf. When he came home I could see such a difference in his demeanor and it was wonderful.
For most people it is hard to deal with someone else’s illness and I understand that. We humans just want easy answers – we don’t like unsolvable problems. We all like a happy ending.
People don’t want to hear that you are ill and that you may never get better; instead they want to hear that you’re a fighter and that the cure is on the horizon. But sometimes the cure isn’t on the horizon – sometimes it hasn’t even been thought of. And when that is the case, it’s hard for people to wrap their heads around.
I fight every day to be stronger than I was yesterday. Some days I succeed and others I don’t, but I still fight. Being a fighter doesn’t mean always mean finding a cure – sometimes it means continuing to deal with symptoms for which there is no cure.
But even the best and strongest fighters need someone in their corner. Some fighters have no one – I’m extremely grateful to have many.
When others doubt me, or I doubt myself, they reassure me that my experiences are real. When my depression and anxiety tell me I’m a burden, they remind me of everything I bring to the table and all of the good qualities I’m quick to forget.