Why Chronically Ill People Don’t Take Normal Days For Granted

If you live with a chronic illness, you know that life is filled with good days, bad days, hell days, and what we deem as normal days.

A good day consists of discomfort, but it’s fairly good to us and we still manage to run light errands. A bad day sucks, and we’re probably stuck at home doing light cleaning with frequent breaks from fatigue. A hell day ruins our plans, and we’re usually couch or bedridden eating comfort food while equally finding no comfort. But a normal day is one for the books. A normal day is pain-free and we’re filled with eagerness to climb mountains, run a marathon, or bungee jump.

OK, maybe bungee jumping is a little excessive, but you get the idea. We feel limitless.

When we awake on a normal day, we’ll blink twice to make sure we’re not dreaming. We get out of bed, astonished that we can’t feel this pain or that pain, utterly desperate for this normal to last – at least for the day.

And this is why chronically ill people don’t take a normal day for granted.

People who live with chronic pain are aware that a normal day is a treasure. We can’t pass it by in some pursuit of a perfect tomorrow. We know soon that we’ll be silently cursing our body, or soaking our pillow wet with tears in the night, or be curled up in fetal position on the couch with warm rice packs.

We know soon, very soon, that this normal won’t last, and we’ll ache for it to come again – for it to make its permanent home.

So we soak it in. We jump with glee. We hide our pain pills so we’re not reminded this pain-free day is temporary. We hold onto a normal day with thankfulness. We hold onto it like a mother does her newborn baby, knowing that moment won’t last forever.

If you don’t suffer from chronic illness and you happen to find yourself bored – try sitting and being thankful. Be thankful for good health and the fact that maybe you can run errands without limping. Or maybe that you can watch Netflix without an IV drip in your veins. Or maybe that you woke up and your feet hit the cold morning floor without them feeling like you stepped on the sun.

Find thankfulness in your boring, amazingly normal day, and try not to take it for granted.

It is missed by many.

Sometimes The Bravest Thing You Can Do Is Get Help

I can’t pinpoint when my depression started, but I would say it followed when I was diagnosed with lupus in 2013. I had started an independent life all on my own in the mountains of Colorado only to have to move back to my parent’s home a year later because I could barely pour a cup of coffee.

I ignored my depression for years after moving back home, blaming it solely on the fact that I was physically ill for life. But when medicine started working, and I could pour a cup of coffee without searing pain, my depression became naked.

Blaming it on my illness only lasted so long before the people closest to me could see the pain in my eyes – even when I was laughing.

I met the love of my life in 2016 and we married in sweet November of 2017. Our first year of marriage was a beautiful hot mess. We fought all the time. I cried a lot. He got frustrated. I threw things at doors. He cleaned up broken glass. We didn’t know how to communicate. I was sick – a lot. I winced every time someone awed us saying, “Enjoy that honeymoon stage.” And then, my depression woke up – I hid it under my pillow every night until it was no longer comfortable.

I began to self-harm in 2018 and I did it six times. Every moment was different, but every moment I felt the same hopeless feeling. My brain started to connect the relief from my emotional pain with the act of cutting, and so, it became easier every time.

Try holding this away from your spouse – it ain’t gonna happen. Especially when your spouse is a therapist. My husband knew I hid a lot of my childhood, as well as the ache of my father’s abandonment at 18 and a whole lotta family dysfunction. Maybe it all added up and became too much to bear. My husband did everything he could to prevent my self harming. He hid knives and sharp objects – I tear up as I write it. I was stubborn and didn’t think I needed help.

My body has wounds on my arms and legs, but there were wounds that went so much deeper than anything that bled – than anything you could see. And I needed help.

One morning, with a crick in my neck after how much I had stuffed under my pillow, I agreed to get help. It took everything in me to accept it because accepting it meant I had to face really scary things.

And it was the bravest thing I could’ve done.

I started medication and saw a counselor for a while and today, I’m better for it. And then, as my life would have it, I was diagnosed with a very rare, incurable disease in October that makes me painfully half-blind for months and feels like jellyfish live inside my body. It’s called Neuromyelitis optica – I have my good days, I have my bad days. It’s been easy to fall into depression, but by the grace of God, it’s not prevailed.
Sometimes, I don’t feel like I’m winning, but maybe sometimes we have to fight battles more than once to win. I like to think of my depression as part of my story that had to happen in order for me to be where I’m at today.

I think people who’ve been depressed have a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion and a sincere kindness for others. Maybe we’d not know this deep empathy if we’d not lived through our depression.

If you struggle with depression, here’s a virtual hug and a gentle nudge to seek help if you haven’t. It’s OK. You’re not depression. You have a powerful story to tell. You have a past, a name, and your own quirky awesome characteristics that make you who you are. None of that goes away because you seek help. You’re still you. I’m still me.

You’re already brave.

Who knows, maybe you’ll better for it.