Unfounded doubts I have about my chronic illness…

Living with a chronic condition is hard most of the time, even harder when for years doctors have doubted you and told you things like, ‘it’s all in your head.’ Coping day to day is a struggle, without the added pressure and annoyance of people saying things like:

‘When will you be well enough to go back to work?’ ‘It can’t be that bad.’ ‘People have it worse.’ ‘Have you tried yoga.’ ‘Eat some kale.’

I’ve comprised a list of doubts I have within myself day to day, that I can honestly say are complete nonsense. I think it’s a way of somehow beating myself up for being sick and needing to take time out for myself. Going from being such an active person to being stuck in the house a lot of the time is still taking a lot of adjustment and I’m constantly questioning myself (even though I haaaate being home all day).

  1. Am I actually as sick as I think I am?

The answer to this is yes. I sometimes sit and overthink every little thing that happens to me illness wise. I will analyse every symptom and question if it’s as bad as I think it is. I question whether I’m being weak and if anyone else would cope with it better. I’ve popped out a shoulder in my sleep and been like ‘have I somehow done this to myself’. The answers no, I take a hell of a lot of shit from my illness and my body is constantly falling apart, there’s nothing I can physically do about it.

2. Would my symptoms improve if I had a better diet?

It wouldn’t be a normal day without someone asking me this question, it’s a very valid point that I don’t mind explaining but it does make me doubt myself. Half of the time I can’t eat and I’m on a liquid nutrition based diet. I don’t pretend in any way that I eat remotely healthy, sometimes when my stomach is bad for some weird reason the only thing I can eat without puking is a McDonald’s burger with no bun. I have a very restricted diet, with no gluten, no wheat and minimal dairy. I’m on a low histamine diet which is absolute hell, avoiding like 50 things. In terms of eating more veg the answer is a strong no from me, I used to love some veg, but I can’t eat much of it now as I don’t digest it. So unless I want to be shitting whole chunks of pepper for a day I think I’ll give it a miss.

3. Am I actually well enough to go to work?

Sometimes managing a full day out the house raises this question in my mind. I walked around Cheshire Oaks outlet village for several hours the other day and managed to go for a meal after it. This is the first time in a while I’ve been able to do this, so would this mean I could manage a day in work? Well, since then I’ve been back on my crutches, barely mobile and spent a lot of time in bed catching up on game of thrones. There is no way I’d be able to do two consecutive days at anything. It is so so frustrating when people make you feel like you’re some sort of lazy scrounger. I loved the job I was doing and studying my post graduate diploma, so why the hell would I choose to be home all day bored and hungry. STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF CHLOE.

4. Should I be doing more exercise?

I swim a lot when I can, but there’s an issue with having bipolar for me and doing exercise. Last week I swam at least 70 lengths 3 times after not swimming for months. I get too into it when I’m manic and I can’t stop pushing myself too far because I am convinced it will take my energy away and help me calm. Having both a chronic and a mental illness makes life so hard for me and my mind and body are never in sync with tiredness. I have chronic fatigue which often makes it a struggle to even get up and get dressed, sometimes that’s enough of a challenge without forcing myself to get up and overdo it.

5. Do I need all this medication?

This is one of the things I question the most, part of this is because of the way chronic pain patients often get treated. I worry about taking morphine because it’s addictive and my GP surgery have tried to take it off me a few times. This means I will literally sit there in absolute agony or take ibuprofen which really aggravates my stomach before I reach for proper pain relief. I also wonder whether or not I actually need all my daily medications. Thinking about this logically, they have been prescribed to me for a bloody reason. I’ve tried stopping tablets myself and ended much worse off. So really stop being an idiot and listen to the doctor is my message to myself here.

Overall I think I need to be kinder to myself and have more understanding when I’m incapable of doing the things I used to. I’m trying my best and that’s literally enough. Be kind to sick people we’re doing what we can.

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