Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Guilt of Chronic Illness

I just finished reading a blog post written by Chronic Mom entitled, "Chronic illness and feeling body shame." It struck such a chord with me, because I gained 90 pounds over the course of two years (-ish) thanks to a medication I was taking. That medication has been changed and I have lost 10 pounds over the last few months, but it is slow going.

I was overweight while my children were growing up, something I have felt guilty about since the gain started. I felt like I could not be the mother I wanted to be, because the weight held me back. It was worse when I finally reached my goal weight, but the kids had all left home by then. 

Now that my body is in constant pain, that has only increased the guilt - I "do" guilt very well. I wish I had stayed in shape when the kids came, because I cannot do the things now that I could do, or could have done, then, before the pain set in.

I feel betrayed by my body. I was in my mid-40s when it started falling apart and 52 when the multiple diagnoses started. It seems like it has been one thing after another. First, was the fibromyalgia, then the PTSD, next I blew out my knee in 2010 and it has not stopped hurting since. Osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, adult onset scoliosis, a lifetime of major depressive disorder became worse. It has been about three years since I was declared disabled.

I deal with people telling me to get a job. If my disabilities showed themselves with a wheelchair or walker, I doubt they would say the same thing. I finished my education just before the diagnoses began. Do they not think or realize that I would much rather be working than living in chronic pain?

It might sound weird to someone else, but one of the things that bothers me is that I may live the rest of my life alone. Who would want someone with all my problems? I have been single for almost nine years now. I discussed this with my therapist the other day, and she said in the years to come, the men are going to start falling apart, too. It made me smile. 

Companionship. That is what I miss the most. I hope my therapist is right.

If your body is working well, do what you can to keep it doing so before it is too late. If you have a life companion, cherish them. If your children are still at home, give them an extra hug and spend five more minutes playing outside with them.