Truly one of the very worse parts of living with any Chronic Illness is THE GUILT!
I don’t think anyone escapes it. I see it discussed all over the Facebook Boards for Chronically Ill, I see Blog Posts about it often, and I know it has certainly been something I have dealt with and still do sometimes.
This type of guilt runs DEEP. It comes almost immediately when the first symptoms of the illness start to appear. You don’t feel well but you assume you will get better, and you rest and perhaps take a little time off. If you are a Mom or a wife, you may feel guilty for this tiny bit of self-care already (ridiculous but true for some). Somehow though, you just continue to get worse.
So you start the cycle of visiting doctors so you can just get better and get on with your life. Sadly, nothing is adding up and the doctor may even SHAME you and tell you it’s all in your head. And time passes. And you get worse. Your friends and family are concerned and frustrated.
The guilt is building as you can’t keep up with housework. You start missing social engagements, canceling at the last minute because you were so hoping you could go. The kids are getting frustrated because this is messing with their schedule since you can’t drive them to practices and make their lunches.
You spend more and more time in bed. You feel worse and worse but visiting the doctor is too hard and has become pointless. You feel worthless, inadequate, incompetent, and fear you are just a burden to your spouse. Your spouse has tried to pick up the slack but they are stressed and you fear they think you aren’t trying hard enough to get better.
Your life has become a living hell. Your friends don’t bother calling anymore. Your family has no idea what to think. You dare to think of ending your life to end the pain and suffering, feeling you are just in everyone’s way, but you don’t want to leave that burden too.
I can go on and on with this because I lived this. For years! I was in survival mode and my life was totally in a pit of guilt and despair. I felt like I had nothing to contribute to anyone. I missed so much in my children’s lives….ball games, school events, vacations, I can’t even stand to make the list. Until everything changed!
My son was in a car accident. There was concern that he may have broken his neck. As you can imagine, I was horrified. As they wheeled him off to X-ray, I couldn’t help but think about how he would hand an injury like that. It didn’t take long for them to come back with the news that his neck wasn’t broken. He just had some whiplash. Thank God!!
What hit me in that moment was that my life was incredibly important for my children. I can teach them how to handle adversity with grace. I can teach them that when life is really hard, you can still be happy and find lots of gifts! From that moment on, I threw the guilt aside, knowing that it served absolutely no purpose!! I may be missing an event but I can still be happy that my kids are there and I can enthusiastically hear all about it when they get home.
The point is, it’s hard enough to be sick. Carrying guilt around is just a horrible side effect that we have the power to get rid of. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it has huge benefits for us and everyone around us. Happiness is a choice whether you have a chronic illness or you are perfectly healthy. I know it’s hard to feel like crap all the time, but don’t add feeling bad about it to the mix. It’s a complete waste of precious energy!!