Listen, there’s no beautiful way to say this: I’m not sure which parts of my personality predate my chronic illness and PTSD. I’m not sure which pieces of myself have always been here and which parts are symptoms turning outward.
I’m not even sure if it matters at this point.
I’ve lived with fibromyalgia and post traumatic stress disorder since I was seven. This year marks my fifteenth year of being sick and sad and crazy – but, as I’ve stated before, I’ve never been happier to be alive. So why can’t I let this go?
As a Sick person, so many aspects of my daily life feel out of control. I can’t control my body, my pain, my exhaustion. I can’t stop strangers, friends, and family alike from explaining to me how I’m using my body wrongly. I can’t go out often with my friends because I’m too tired to function.
This illness has taken so much from me.
As a Mentally Ill person, I feel a lot of shame for the way my disorders manifest. I require a lot of reassurance. I worry that I’m constantly being manipulative. I’m so afraid of men that I carry a hunting knife in my purse at all times. I left my last job because my boss told the staff that I was too much of a slut to be afraid of men and that I didn’t deserve to be protected from the asshole behind this post. That situation created a deep anger and anxiety around being misunderstood and mistreated.
This illness has taken too much from me.
Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by everything that I don’t even try. I don’t pretend to be well in any way. My door shuts quietly, I take meals by myself, I don’t answer the phone. I am not a full person on these days. I am a half-being, sick and sad, eyes wide as I try not to cry. It’s true, these days aren’t happy and they aren’t fun but they feel more honest.
In this way, I need those half-days.
I need time to be ill, to shed the mask of health that I wear every day. You wouldn’t believe how heavy that disguise can be – its weight makes my arms ache. But who would I be without my sicknesses? What kind of person would I be if my body and mind were better balanced, more functional, less damning? Who could I be without near-crippling fear, pain, exhaustion?
Is this the most genuine version of myself? And, more importantly, does it matter?
If there’s no way to return to who I was before being assaulted, before getting sick – if I’m stuck in this sick body – does it matter that I could’ve been something different?
I wish I knew.