Friday, 30 June 2017

Single status in chronic illness...

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Many people take the time to send me messages, claiming that I have perhaps helped them feel less alone, less isolated and less afraid in their battle against chronic illness. I never believed that my words could have the power to do that, until I remembered how articles on other topics often help me. Words can be comforting, they can tell you exactly what you need to hear and that is remarkable.  I however, am more grateful to those who even take the time to read my words.

My blog has been through quite the evolution with me. From mostly negative ramblings just after diagnosis as a teenager, to worried posts and finally, to a place of feeling mostly positive yet reflective. Writing is an incredible outlet for me. Words have the power to flow onto paper in a short amount of time, providing elements of peace and clarity within topics of my life. Right now, I am in a time in my life where I need a big boost in hope. I need to believe that out there, is something incredible waiting for me. So if you don’t mind, today I want to vent about a topic which crosses my mind almost daily. It has slowly but surely, crossed over into my lack of confidence, self-image and self-worth.

There is something behind the scenes of this blog which also causes me to feel intense loneliness and worry. Many question why I worry so much about the following topic, why I stress about it, why it makes me upset and why at times, it breaks my heart and makes me question my worth. That topic is my status of being single. A chronically ill, wheelchair user who is single. The cherry on top of that glorious cake comes into play now - my biggest goal in life is to become a wife and a mother. I know that sometimes, that makes people roll their eyes and question why it is important, but it has been a dream of mine since I was around five years old. You can probably understand why I feel the need to write a full post on this topic.

Back in the day when I was eighteen, a boy at the time told me that in the prime of his life, he should not be concerned about myself or my health. Instead, he should be out there living as young people should, with the motivation to move on from me and to enjoy his life. He then switched his phone off, blanked my replies for twenty-four hours and left me with those words spinning around in my mind. I sobbed as dramatic eighteen year olds do, yet I also had my world of chronic illness, symptoms and disability to deal with alongside of this. At this time, only a select few knew the depths of my disability. Now, this is nothing to do with the person, we were certainly not soulmates. This is to do with the chosen words used which seemed to struck a chord with me like lightening to my chest. The comment that was delivered in 10 seconds flat has stuck with me every single day since. I would put money on the fact that this comment in particular has never crossed his mind again, yet, hand on heart, there hasn’t been a day since in which I haven’t questioned internally whether he was right. Most of the time, I truly believe he was.

 Since that fateful comment, which given the benefit of the doubt was possibly said in anger, frustration or jest (I will never know), I have believed that maybe I am not worthy of finding love. It has stuck with me like glue, almost a deep rooted belief that maybe, I’m just not destined to be in a pairing. Maybe it is my health that makes me unworthy? Maybe it is who I am as a person that makes me unworthy? Maybe I am too big of a responsibility? Maybe it is the cards I have been dealt with in life? Perhaps it is the fact that I have mobility impairments? Am I hideous and unattractive? Yet there is a tiny part of me that deeply wishes, prays for and actively seeks this perfect and happy scenario of being able to find love, get married and have children. On one hand, I think of those hurtful words daily and on the other, I pray for the same thing over and over.

Now, I’ll be honest here. My love life has been bleak. Rolling tumble weed in a cheesy cowboy movie kind of 'bleak'. Love hasn’t seemed to roll around just yet or in the passing years. I feel deeply embarrassed to admit this, but for the purpose of this post I shall. I have never been asked on a date, in fact, I'm pretty non existent to many boys due to my chronic illness and limited socialization and so, I hate to say it but maybe that person was actually right. My mind has begun to create a thought process in regards to my reality as a singleton. Maybe my health does make me incompatible? Maybe it is a huge inconvenience to others? Yet, the receiving end of that 'inconvenience' is me. A girl who also wants to find love, marriage, happiness and a family unit. When I dwell on the situation, that thought creeps in like an old companion. I hate that I give a negative thought the power, yet sadly, the reality almost matches what someone from my past once told me. 

Everywhere I look, people both healthy and chronically ill are getting engaged, married, having babies, moving out, being promoted and yet, whilst I feel happy for them, there is in an element within me that feels twinges of sadness too. Knowing full well that life is passing me by whist I wait for my health to become back on track in order to get the same out of life. At least, it feels like that way currently. I know of many successful chronically ill individuals in long term relationships, yet you never hear of how they found their soulmates whilst housebound, bed bound, in ICU or just by chance? Sometimes, it does feel like I am the odd one out in this journey. 

Many people tell me it was a foolish mistake. We are all young, we all make mistakes and often say and do hurtful things, yet words in particular touch a nerve. They can be hurtful and they truly can stick with us. I am sure that many of us can have flashbacks to when someone has said something we took to heart and then proceed to tear ourselves apart over. I’m not a very confident person but in terms of feeling loved, I just can’t help but feel that it perhaps isn’t meant to be. That thought alone is heartbreaking, despite my prayers, wishes, desires and efforts. Yet, I also know that I am chronically ill and haven’t had many chances to find love. I know full well that it isn’t always easy when your health resists all that you want to achieve in life and as a person.

My life in terms of my health circumstances unfortunately is not like regular people my age, but inside, I am still the same as everyone else my age. I can have adult conversations, I can laugh along with people, I can binge watch the same rubbish TV shows, I can look after my god children, I can cheer someone up, I can be a good friend, daughter and I try my best to be a good person. None of those elements change due to my health. So why on earth do my health circumstances and situation make me feel so unworthy of being in a relationship?

 I am sorry to pour my heart out on here, so negatively. I was always ashamed to write a post on my single status but today, I am asking you to perhaps help me find some clarity and peace in my situation. If I have learned anything from blogging, it is that I am certainly not alone in worries and concerns surrounding chronic illness. If you too are feeling the following concerns, worry or ideally, have a story of hope that can help soothe my apprehension for the future in regards to relationships, please do share in the comments below via email or on my social media accounts.

Monday, 6 March 2017

The essence of time in chronic illness and disability...

At the beginning of March, I celebrated my birthday. This birthday in particular was unfortunately greeted with a flare up, throat infection, antibiotics and many unruly symptoms. I was not only facing a lot from a physical perspective, but this was also a challenge mentally due to the fact that I had warmed myself up to the idea that this year, things would be incredibly different, from a celebration point of view. Health troubles or not, this was going to be the year in which I could finally soar, plan celebrations and over ride all of the previous birthdays which didn’t go to plan due to health circumstances out of my control.

Perfecting that patience and inner peace towards dealing with milestones of time passing whilst living in a world of a chronic illness and disability is something that takes practice, with multiple tests and falls along the way. During every 'time milestone' that has passed, I stumble slightly, which is testing in the moment but a learning experience nonetheless. Having to pick yourself up year after year when milestones pass is not something that comes easily or lightly in chronic illness and disability. I feel that when we are chronically ill, we put so much pressure and emphasis on the actual date of significant milestones such as birthdays, knowing full well that if we live with chronic health problems, our special day holds the potential to hold elements of pain, regardless. It is strange to be torn between the reality of our current situation whilst avidly clinging on to the hope that things will take a turn for the better in the future.

Yet that is the thing about the life, it is unpredictable and we never quite know what it has in store for us. We hope it holds our best interest, but sometimes, we have to roll with what we are given. We have to have the grace to accept the circumstances in the present for what they are, yet there is an always an element of sadness due to the yearning or wishing for circumstances to be slightly different for the better. Occasionally, we are met with types of challenges which are mostly out of our control. We get discouraged, but we soon find a way in which we can pick ourselves back up, move on with our lives and find ourselves learning a new approach and mentality towards the next celebration we are involved with.

As a child, I was incredibly eager for my birthday to arrive. Probably a little too eager due to the fact that I would have a nine week countdown. My day was never marked by the passing of time but by the joy I felt inside through the innocence of childhood. As an adult, the concept of time could not be more present on my events such as birthdays, christmas, easter or anything celebratory. However, I feel this is a common trait in every adult once they reach a certain age or pivotal moment in their lives where time feels as if it is of the essence. That essence for me, has been becoming chronically ill and often feeling like I am much older than my years, physically, mentally and emotionally. That essence came from having to have the patience to wait for a time where my body could start healing, where things would fall into place and where I had to be lenient and tolerant with a force inside of my body that limited my mobility. I had to find a way to be peaceful with where I had found myself at any given age, due to my unforeseen, health circumstances. 

Time plays such a large factor in all of our lives. There is such a pressurised, negative emphasis on time. It can cause us to unnecessarily worry, stress, panic and greatly compare our behind the scenes to everyone else's highlight reel. How many of you compare where you are in your life, at the age you are now, to that of those whom you know in reality or through the internet? I know that I do, possibly every week if I am completely honest. As an adult, I reflect upon the thought that as children, we had no concept of time passing or setting ourselves unrealistic markers to where we should be at any given age. We just rolled with the present moment, accepting and coping with it for what it was in a peaceful and content state.  Without worry, anguish or pressure. Yet, when we reach adulthood, suddenly this surge of panic installs itself into us to different degrees. 

We have tendencies to be our own worst critic, it is just not helpful to our evolution and designated, individual paths in life. Some of us have envisioned precisely how our lives should look or be by the time we reach a certain age. It is a pretty naive and pressured outlook to push onto ourselves, causing further health problems to contend with due to the stress of it all. We look up to our role models, parents, grandparents, family members and friends when it comes to time margins of where we feel we ’should be’, in our lives by the time we reach a certain age and through that process, knock ourselves down.

I am starting to feel worn out by holding myself to those textbook time stamps and comparison techniques of where I 'should’ be. Especially, whilst facing multiple illnesses which are yet to be under my full control. I instead aim to hope, wish and choose to believe that I am where I belong, for now. I wish to believe that I am at this point in my life for a reason, for my greater good, for better things to fall into place as and when the time is right. I am choosing to believe that eventually, everything will fall into place at the precise moment it was always destined to. I will surpass all of my goals and hopes for the future but in the meantime, the present shall have my full focus and peace. Its a working progress but one in which I wanted you all to reflect on. too. 

They say that patience is a virtue. I am trying my best in learning to become more accepting of where I am in contrast to where I have always wished to be. I am learning to become more present, rather than focusing on my future and I am learning to believe that everything will eventually fall into place, including my greatest hopes and dreams when the time is right. I am not sure on exactly why I want to think in such a way, but I would much rather choose those comforting and loving thought approaches than that of ridiculing myself over my unchosen health limitations and the correlation they have to time passing. It does not help my healing journey, it does not help my confidence, it hinders my progress and it does not help my self belief and power to improve my quality of life. It possibly, doesn’t help you in evolving in your healing journey, either.