I have a chronic illness.
For the rest of my life, I will carry the weight of my struggle with Crohn's disease through every job, every relationship, and every endeavor. Even when my body is healthy, my mind will always remember the past. I have an illness that will always make me tired. I will cautiously tread and wonder if at any second it will become active and I will have to explain to a new set of managers and coworkers that Crohn's disease is serious; that it is not something to be laughed at because it involves shitting and puking. Each new relationship I will remember the friendships and romantic relationships that failed me before because I was ill. Each time I embark on a new adventure I will doubt my ability to complete the task. Even though I am healthy now, I still feel the effects of my illness. I will never believe in certainty.
I always thought when I was physically healthy my life would be perfect. But, life is much more difficult than that. In the past year I started a new job, moved out on my own, ended a relationship, fell in love with someone new, traveled, stressed, had another surgery, and made new friends. But with each of these accomplishments that wouldn't have been possible without my health, I still wonder what could have been. It is impossible to squeeze ten years of bad health into two of blissfully good health because it results in nothing but dissatisfaction. I have to believe there is no timeline for the accomplishments one is supposed to achieve at certain points in their life.
I still struggle with depression which I believe is a result of the residue of Crohn's. It is a true statement of resilience that when I was deathly ill I never felt seriously depressed, but now that I am living a "normal" life with the effects of illness, I find that I struggle with this problem. I guess when you are going through hell you find a way to make it through and it's only after the storm has cleared that you have to deal with the aftermath. That's where I've been for a while now and I am not certain that the recovery effort will ever end.
Don't get me wrong. I am happy for the most part. I am healthy. I have the greatest support system in my friends, family, coworkers, and boyfriend. But I still hate what Crohn's has done to me. I have to remind myself of all positive traits it has added to my character that might not have been possible otherwise. I know it has made me a better person but I am not so certain that the benefits of its lessons have outweighed the damage it has permanently caused. For now I have to embrace what is in front of me and remind the goodness in my life.
A Canadian journalist named Robert Mason Lee (who I've linked here before) once stated that those afflicted with Crohn's become pain-seeking people. That they are so accustomed to feeling pain they need to feel it even when it's gone. I believe his theory but I am tired of feeling pain. I am ready to be happy and healthy. I am done with seeking pain because it feels normal. I am ready to be happy and I have a feeling I am headed there.