Guest article by Chioma Achonu from www.septemberweather.blog
Strength is looked at as how much you can lift and how fast you can run, but there is a type of strength that does not get enough recognition. Mental and emotional strength. Throughout my six-year journey with lupus I have felt very weak. There were times when I would try to walk, and my leg would collapse into a pudding under the weight of my body. Moments when I need assistance doing simple tasks like going to the bathroom and getting a cup of water. Times when I cannot walk straight because I am so weak and dizzy from exhaustion. I am still living in a time where I can hardly hold a pot full of water or lift something 10 lbs or more. With these failures of my body’s strength, it is easy to begin to feel weak. Tasks have gone from mundane and easy to difficult and sometimes impossible.
Unfortunately, people who are dealing with a chronic illness tend to feel this way. With all these daily tests of my physical strength, I feel lucky to grow in mental and emotional strength like I have. It didn’t take overnight to do so, and it was a lot harder than going to a gym. My belief is that people who have been diagnosed with an illness are stronger than anyone, even themselves sometimes, can imagine despite their physical depletion. There is so much strength and fight in our soul to get through whatever obstacle we are faced with that it builds resilience and makes the normal stressors in life child’s play. If you don’t know, or maybe you are dealing with an illness yourself and need a reminder, here are a few reasons why there is strength from silently fighting.
Nowadays, everyone gets a trophy for just being a participant in something. Someone who is dealing with a chronic illness deserves a trophy, and not in a participation type of a way. We aren’t participants in our struggle, we are the team that carries ourselves through not only the daily stressors of life, but the hectic tribulations of dealing with a chronic illness. Every day we make it through, even if the day was spent resting, is an accomplishment because 9 times out of 10, pain or other symptoms are heavily impacting our day. The fact that we can get out of bed to go to the bathroom when the soles of our feet are in pain or in my case, so swollen it feels like they may burst beneath me, is an accomplishment. The hardest part for people including myself dealing with a chronic illness is to accept these tasks, that people take for granted, as accomplishments. I can go way more in depth about the struggle chronic illness creates with normal tasks, but instead I am going to say great job to anyone struggling with a chronic illness for everything you did today. Pat yourself on the back because you are amazing, beautiful, and have incredible strength that most people can only dream of. If you don’t have a chronic illness and know someone who does, don’t forget to thank them for silently fighting and making it through the day.
Resilience is one of the best characteristics that I feel like I’ve gained with having a chronic illness. That bouncy ball effect of being thrown against a wall and coming back with more force than before with an unscarred spirit. People who battle with a chronic illness know how challenging it is to fail doing the simplest tasks, so we constantly need use our strength to dust off our knees and keep going. We constantly do things daily that we do not want to do. We swallow pills even though we have choked multiple times trying to do so, we go to doctors’ offices despite having work and other life obligations or just purely not wanting to go. Who truly wants to go to the doctor’s office? Especially when having a chronic illness and it seems that they always have bad news. The battle is difficult, but the biggest challenges go to the greatest warriors.
For anyone who doesn’t have a chronic illness, it is hard to imagine why asking for help takes strength. To put it in a different way when everything that used to be easy becomes difficult and you must ask for help almost every time you do something, not only is there a feeling of helplessness but also the feeling of failure. It takes strength to admit that you need help despite the majority of people in the world, including myself, that have an independent mentality. Despite wanting to just lay down forever and not have to ask for help again, we fight through those feelings, and continue to do so. Not because we are lazy but because we truly need it. The emotional and mental strength it takes to rebuild the sadness into strength is a difficult task that people with a chronic illness do every day.
When I sit on the doctor’s table and talk about my history with lupus, there are two reactions I either get from doctors. One being “Your pretty young to be dealing with all of this” or “You look good for someone going through all this”. People with a chronic illness grow more appreciation with life when feeling like every day they are dancing with death. With all the fighting we do to just survive, there is a beautiful appreciation that comes from the way we look at life. A feeling that you would do anything to survive through the day and have a better tomorrow. Life is incredibly difficult filled with disappointments, struggles, and pain. Don’t ever forget that life is always worth fighting for.
There are times when we cannot help but be sad or mad crying “Why me” when everything in the world seems to be against us. The fact of the matter is that after our tears dry and our frown turns upside down, we get up and continue fighting for the most precious gift in the world, life. We put a smile back on our face because we know if anyone can, we can. We are the definition of strength. We grow each and every day and become better and more beautiful with every lesson we learn, and illnesses teach a lot of lessons. In my 2019 NEW YEARS RESOLUTION AND 2018 REFLECTION I go in depth about some of the lessons lupus has taught me and has probably taught others as well. With every struggle in life, there are many things to learn from it. Just keep fighting through the difficult tasks, and develop everything you learn into a beautiful tomorrow.
Growing up I always used a journal that I would hide under my pillow. It is cool looking back at them and reading what I was like in the past. I still have my personal journal now but realized how ineffective it was for me writing these emotions and not dealing with them. Another reason I felt that writing alone was ineffective was because for a long time I had no friends that understood my struggles. I had no one to share experiences with that understood them. I lost a lot of people as friends because they didn’t understand why a young adult can’t go out partying and drinking all night. They didn’t understand why it was difficult for me to show up to work shifts, school, and social events. Hell, I didn’t realize it myself at the time. So, it is now my fifth year of my journey and I feel like I have been on a lupus roller coaster. I am sharing my stories and experiences so I can share experiences with other people going through what I go through. Most importantly I want to raise awareness to a cause that doesn’t have enough. In fact, I never heard of lupus until I was diagnosed with it. I don’t want that to be something that happens to anyone else. I wanted to write this short disclaimer that will be posted on every post to let everyone know that I am no professional therapist or doctor. I am an artist fighting a battle who wants to share their art and stories or die trying.
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