Saturday, 3 September 2016

The backpack of struggle in chronic illness...

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Struggle is a word of which those of us who suffer with chronic illness or disability can heavily relate too. Life tends to feel like one big struggle of which we feel pretty helpless towards, at times. There are more downs than ups, more obstacles to overcome than time periods of smooth sailing. The weight of struggle can drag us down and cloud our judgement when it comes to facing life. We can feel overwhelmed, underwhelmed, depressed, drained, angry, sad and confused by struggle. When we think we have just about made peace with what is, an obstacle throws us off course and we find ourselves back to square one. That is often both the beauty of being alive and the hardship of a chronic disease, combined. Equally tragic and beautiful. 

Before I go to sleep at night, my mind whizzes with life's abundance of 'what ifs'. Mostly about my future, living with chronic illness and simply hoping to regain a larger amount of control that chronic illness has seemed to grip for so long now. What if my pain levels are even higher tomorrow? What if this never gets any easier? What if? Despite how daunting these thoughts can sometimes feel, I have really tried to install in myself that I will do my upmost to no longer take the broken fragments of yesterday into a fresh start. That is all well and good until you realise that actually, you take the physical and mental baggage that is chronic pain into every new sunrise. I try to remain with that focus in order to use my limited energy to cope with what is happening in my present. Sometimes it works, sometimes I fail but I am aware of the thought nonetheless. I try to remind myself that none of us, healthy or chronically ill currently know the intricate and precise details of our futures, yet despite this my mind does wonder about the 'what ifs?'. 

We feel that we watch the life of others slot together incredibly well, whilst we are left with our own backpack of struggle and setbacks. A non moving, turmoil, vacant location to be in. I would just like to insert the disclaimer than in fact, everyone has their individual version of the backpack of struggle. No one is a super human, nor immune or invincible to struggle. If a struggle is relevant enough to cause stress, worry and anguish, then it is enough to be classed as one. These backpacks are invisible to the eye, yet weigh heavy on the heart and soul of others. Struggles can suck the energy and life out of a person at the best of times. We seem to become more relatable and human when we realise that someone has also faced a source of struggle. Walking a mile in someone's shoes can actually connects us.

I started to really think about and comprehend my struggle, all whilst trying not to dwell on the situation too much. This was in case it lead me into the phase of negative territory and further distress, of course, which it did for a while, but I did my upmost to ground myself again. I attempted to see my struggle from a different set of eyes. Something that is hard when you feel like you know yourself, inside and out. You know the everyday structure of your life revolves around constant pain. It was incredibly difficult to gain an insight and perspective into turning my struggle into what could be seen as good use. Such circumstances can alter your thoughts to believe that your struggle continues to exist to hinder you, yet it actually gave me a different insight to myself of which I tend to push aside and disregard. Struggles do not arrive in our lives to be suppressed. They were designed for us to want to reach out for help and along the way, informing others that such circumstances exist.

Struggles certainly push you to your limits. They make or break you and they force you to face your upmost fears. It is what you do when you are given that source of fear that changes you. It can simmer away, until it explodes and makes itself known and therefore, never leaves you side. I simply thought from the perspective of addressing how many people never give up, despite all of their daily struggles. So many of us never give up, we continue to fight, yet we never give ourselves credit for doing just that. We might struggle to an incredibly large proportion, yet we continue our quest to better ourselves. We doubt, we disbelieve, but we are yet to truly give up all together. We want to get better, we have dreams that are still in our minds despite the struggle. We help each other, we support each other, we share our stories to make others feel content in their own struggle. We are valid in the world because of our struggle. Struggle is in fact what makes other individuals stop and think for a minute. 

Struggle is not about putting yourself on a pedestal with the aim to become inspiring to others, but to genuinel  want to help them through their difficult times because you have been in a similar place too. Struggle is not a pretty and content place to be, it's a case of wanting to launch yourself onto bigger and better things, yet being unaware of the precise steps to take. You know in your heart that you want to move onwards from the place you are stuck in. Life is a journey of which we will all face a struggle of some sort. Sometimes multiple struggles. The invisible backpack is probably something we all wish to take off but power through nonetheless.   

Your struggle can be your greatest sorrow all whilst showing glimmers of becoming your greatest strength. By using your struggle for good measure, as a result you are rewarded with embarking on a bit of a journey of discovery within yourself. By simply living though the deep depths of struggle, it becomes your greatest lesson, blessing and a large portion of your life story. 

I will never dispute the pain that myself and many others live with. Nor can I really justify the act of suffering. Life is cruel, life is tough and life can seem incredibly unfair. We sadly, do not have a manual on life's most trivial questions despite wanting to know to logic behind the battles we face. I feel that suffering in pain or with an illness, is one of those unanswered questions. It can happen through disease, yet there is no comforting logic as to why only certain individuals face such a battle. 'Why me?', can not be answered. We could go round in circles and probably never be satisfied with the fact that we were picked for such a struggle. The luck of such circumstances is simply not fair, but it has happened to us regardless and history can not be changed. We simply have no choice but to accept what is and charge the mountain ahead. Some times we stumble, other times we crawl, but we still continue on. Our struggle may as well be put to some form of good measure.

My struggle has been the heaviest backpack to carry around. I am more than aware of its presence, but it is invisible to the eye. More often than not, I just want to put it down and take a breather, yet that isn't realistic. My struggle does cause doubts yet a huge part of me wants to prove all of those doubts wrong. Whilst currently, it is believed that I will carry it this backpack around for life because of incurable disease, I hope that the load will get easier as time evolves. There is no hope without some form of action, so baby steps it is to see forms of change that may perhaps provide, a lighter load. Daunting yet better than staying immobile and stuck within my circumstances. Struggle has proven to me that I want better for myself, that nothing comes easy and that life puts up a good fight. It's logical to remember that as long as we want better for ourselves, we will never truly give up the fight for reaching such a destination. We might not know the exact path or steps to reach that place currently, yet even having that thought proves we have all the determination to eventually get there.



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