Getting diagnosed with a chronic illness is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, your life has changed. You have gone from a healthy person to a sick one. You have to worry about medications, doctors’ appointments, and conserving energy levels. You start to stress about how you are going to everyday tasks, such as doing laundry, dishes, and necessary errands. You have trouble telling your friends and family because you don’t want to seem like a burden.
This is the “new normal”. Every single person with a chronic illness can relate. If you are diagnosed with something that you are going to have for the rest of your life, you are going to have to adjust to life with it. That’s not an option. It has to happen.
I wish someone told me that when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, though I probably would have a hard time understanding it because I was only eleven years old. That’s a lot for a kid to process. Instead, I ignored the fact that I had it. Even when I was going through a horrible flare, which should have been a warning call, I refused to acknowledge my illness.
It wasn’t until seven years after my initial diagnosis that I started to take my Crohn’s seriously. This was a big mistake because as we all know old habits die hard. As a result of this, I spent so much just pretending I didn’t have Crohn’s Disease. I would ignore every symptom, even if it was severe weight and appetite loss.
I never let my illness get in the way of what I want to do. To most people, that would be seen as inspiring. But it’s not. When you look at the bottom layer, I do things despite my illness because I refuse to accept it. I don’t want to face my new normal, which has existed for the past eight years.
My perseverance isn’t a result of acceptance and moving forward. It’s due to me pushing my diagnosis down to the point where I don’t have to face it. It’s not inspiring, it’s sad. This is no way to live, but I do it anyway. I don’t know any other way if we’re being completely honest.
I hide my Crohn’s because I’m afraid of people’s reactions. I don’t want to be treated any differently. I lie about why I can’t eat certain foods. I fight through flare days until I crash at night. I never tell anyone outside of my small support circle what I’m going through.
This isn’t healthy. This isn’t okay. All of this because I refuse to adjust to my new normal. I don’t do what I do despite my Crohn’s Disease. I do what I do because I am burying my illness in the ground.
But now, I have to dig it up. I don’t know exactly how and I’m not sure I have the right tools in my shed right now. However, I know that one day I will find them. I will repair the damage I did over the course of eight whole years. One day I will be better.
If you are struggling to accept your diagnosis, you are not alone. I know it’s hard, trust me. But, you are going to have to face it sooner or later. I wish I had an answer for how to do it, but it’s different for everyone. So please, at the very least, talk to someone. There are plenty of people who will listen. You don’t have to do it alone.
Don’t try and get your old normal back. Your new normal isn’t as bad it seems.