“Healthy people have many dreams for the future, but sick people only have one dream…to be healthy.”
Let me start off my saying that every chronically ill person I’ve ever met truly wanted to get better–this shouldn’t be breaking news to anyone, except possibly to the small camp of lovely, uninformed people/idiots who think that us Spoonies aren’t getting better simply because we’re “too afraid to.”
Let’s make this clear: we WANT to get better.
But as much as we want to get better, I have to admit that the idea of getting healthier and being able to finally have a life comes with a whole host of complicated emotions (and not all of them are “happy-happy-happy.”)
In fact, the thought of not being sick anymore is a little scary.
Sometimes it feels like the years of pills, injections, medications, herbs, therapies, and doctors will never amount to anything…but what if it was all worth it? What would happen if I really did get better some day?
That’s a thought that sends shivers down my spine. It’s a dream that has felt so out of reach for so long that it doesn’t even seem possible. But what if it did happen?
Of course every sick person would be ecstatic to get their health back, but there are a few reasons that the concept of “getting better” could be a little scary for someone whose struggled with their health for a long time.
Here are a few anxiety-ridden questions a Spoonie might ask them-self as their health changes for the better:
1. How do I reintegrate into society after being gone for so long?
Moving through life is hard enough if you don’t have any major health issues, but when you’re ill or recovering from being ill, things can be a lot trickier…
Returning to Work/School:
If you had to leave work or school due to your illness, then returning to those things can feel incredibly awkward. Explaining large gaps in your work history to potential employers can make you feel vulnerable and you wonder if you won’t get hired because they think you’re unreliable.
Not to mention that small-talk by the water cooler is the worst when you have some rather “unusual” health habits…
“That’s great that you got to paint your old storage shed over the weekend, Carol. What did I do on Saturday? Oh, I just shoved some organic coffee into my rectum and called it a day.”
(Yes, coffee enemas are a real thing, look it up!)
Socializing with other Humans
I image that re-integrating into society after living though a severe, long-standing illness is similar to coming home from an overseas military excursion. You have no idea how to talk to people around you.
The trauma of what you have experienced has made you a “wiser person” and, although you don’t think that you’re better than anyone around you, it’s suddenly difficult to relate to your peers.
You might find yourself irritated with a friend who complains non-stop about their incorrect Starbucks order because stuff like that seems so inconsequential to you now.
Your priorities may be extremely different than those of your family, friends, and co-workers, and that’s OK.
Maintaining a Health Regimen
Even after you recover from you illness, you’ll still probably have to live a little differently than the healthy people around you.
You may still have to take certain medications or supplements, pace yourself so you don’t get burned out, follow an special eating plan, or do other things that seem a bit odd in order to maintenance your health (coffee enema, anyone?).
Others may not understand why you continue to do these things because, “you’re better now, right?” but you know that falling off the path of good health is all too easy to do when you’ve been sick for so long.
Speaking of which…
2. What if I relapse?
The threat of relapse probably haunts every person who has ever recovered from a chronic illness.
You may feel paranoid to live your life.
What if I eat the wrong food and I relapse? What if I push a little too hard and all my symptoms come flooding back? What if I finally start doing things and it all comes crashing down again?
Having a taste of freedom only to have it yanked away from you again is a risk you have to be willing to take.
3. I don’t even know myself anymore…how do I become the person I want to be?
Even though I’m not recovered from my illnesses yet, I like to imagine that getting over your health issues and re-entering the real world is like being “born again.”
Considering that you probably lost your job, your hobbies, and most of your relationships due to your sickness, you are basically a clean slate once you finally do burst through to the other side.
Everyone might think they want a “clean slate” to start their life over again, but the idea of totally reinventing yourself is actually terrifying.
Imagine trying to re-enter the world after living in solitary confinement for 5 years.
You have spent so much time in “survival mode” that you lost who you really were, and now it’s going to take a whole lot of work to get your personality back.
This may be the most hopeful yet anxiety-producing part of recovering your health.
Conclusion: You didn’t come this far to let fear win
If you’re starting to overcome a chronic illness, just remember that the hardest part is already behind you.
Thinking of all the “what if’s” can be paralyzing, so try not to dwell on them. And it might feel easier to just stay where you are (even if that place sucks) than to move forward into uncharted waters as you heal, but I promise it will be worth it!
This entire post is really just a note to myself as I move forward with my current health protocol, but I hope it will serve as inspiration to somebody else as well.
Now, go forth my child, do a coffee enema, and be well!
Sending love and spoons,
Em the Silver Spoonie