The Loneliness of Chronic Illness

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Chronic Illness can be a very lonely journey, even when you’re surrounded by people who love and care about you.

Often you become isolated, unable to go out with friends, and over time, those friends move on, and you’re left behind.

Eventually people stop asking about your health; and you’re glad, because there’s nothing fresh to tell them.

After years of suffering, adjusting, changing and recalibrating you settle into a new sense of normality. When you have a rough day, you don’t bother to tell people anymore because there’s nothing they can do. You get good at hiding the pain; you carry a burden that affects you every day, and while others forget, you have a constant reminder.

I have been so blessed in my illness (which has claimed the majority of my adult life) to have been surrounded by supportive friends and family, but no-one can fully walk the path with you. No-one knows what it feels like on the inside.

Everyone else can walk away; everyone except God.

He is the only one who has walked every step with me. He’s done every day at work, every night of insomnia, every holiday, shopping trip, restaurant experience, social gathering and solitary day on the couch. No-one knows what I experience every day, except Him.

The silent solitary path of chronic illness is a lonely and often isolated one, but I am so blessed to say (in the words of Matt Redman) that ‘never once have I ever walked alone.’

Flying North for the Winter: Half Empty

1338463_59722516I usually don’t travel during the school year because my health is too fragile to risk anything that could interfere with work. But this year, seeing photos of friends travelling through sunny Europe as I was sitting in South Australia feeling cold, I was itching to find somewhere warm to relax.

So I booked my trip to Cairns, imagining posting my own enviable facebook pics of blue skies, sun and ocean.

When we arrived it was raining and it hardly stopped. I think I got more rain in three days of Cairns’ ‘dry season’, than I’ve had all year in SA. We didn’t see a single beach and thoughts of going out to the Great Barrier Reef were squelched due to ‘unseasonably bad weather.’ On top of that, my body reminded me continually that I’m exhausted from the end of term and that CFS has stolen my right to be a good traveler.

I felt like a fool having bragged that I’d be posting photos of a gloriously enviable summer, and to rub salt in the wound, SA had unseasonably warm weather this week. While I was sitting in a wet cloud, they were having days of sunshine and blue skies, and some of my facebook friends actually posted pictures of themselves at the beach! In July!

As I sat on my bed on our final night, listening to the thunderous pelting of the rain on the tin roof, my phone chimed. I looked at the weather notification. “Warning: Cairns. Chance of showers.”

Because there are always two sides to a story, stay tuned for ‘Flying North for the Winter: Half Full.’