Having a physical, mental or emotional illness is draining. Pain, exhaustion, fear, frustration, loneliness, anger become constant companions. We wonder, “why me? What did I do to deserve this? What do I need to do to FIX this?” Doctor’s appointments, medications, procedures all start out hopeful but soon enough they become just another hoop to jump through. We want answers! We want relief!
This is why I love to refer myself as FIERCE. It implies strength, persistence and power. Others, those without these struggles, may not understand just what it takes to keep going when life is so hard. Dealing with constant, unrelenting pain requires fortitude. Fear of prognoses, fear of pain that will never leave, fear of it getting worse. It hits in waves – the pain bringing us to our knees and then abating just long enough to get up and then be driven back down. It is exhausting! Day after day after day, struggling to get out of bed, and then, when we do get up, just wanting to go back to it. The loneliness hits as those who love us don’t get it and those that don’t love us stand in judgement. This all leads to ANGER. I’m mad! I’m mad that I’m sick. I’m mad that I’m alone and misunderstood. I’m mad when it feels like every attempt I make to handle my illness ends in frustration. I’m mad that doctors look at me and judge instead of help.
I went to urgent care a few months ago with chest pain. The psychiatric medication I take is very risky and requires constant monitoring. My psychiatrist specifically said to go to the doctor with any issue because things could get worse quickly: a cold can turn into pneumonia, an infection can go into the bone. So, with this in mind, I went to urgent care, scared and in pain. The doctor looked at me and decided it was inconsequential, an emotional reaction. He was starting to head out of the exam room when he decided he should at least examine me. He was right in that stress played a role. He was incorrect in thinking it was minor. It turned out my chest muscles were spasming so much they were pulling on my rib cage causing major pain. I needed to take muscle relaxers and pain meds for several days until it abated. The condescension was not the first I’d faced and it certainly wouldn’t be my last but it was still embarrassing. I doubted my right to get help while in pain. I saw myself as “less than”.
The simple fact is I am not “less than” anyone else. I have illnesses, yes, but I’m not stopping. I’m going to go to the doctors for help. I’m going to share my story with others. I’m going to get up in the morning and face the day. I may have tears in my eyes but that’s ok. I am okay! Believe me when I say it’s not just me. YOU ARE FIERCE! Whatever you are doing to face the day is enough. Whatever you are doing to cope is enough. You are enough. It’s hard. It is SO HARD!!! But still we fight. We keep going, facing the next day. We may struggle but we endure. We Are FIERCE!!!