A few days ago I took this blog down. A remark made by someone close to me made me start doubting the entire reason I started this blog. I never intended for this blog to be a place where I vent my frustrations; for that, I have a journal, family and friends. Airing my personal troubles on the internet is not something that I am fond of doing. My hopes for this blog was to create an area where those who are afflicted with IBD can come to learn about the experiences others have while sharing their own.
It took a lot of thinking to figure out whether I’ll bring the blog back up (and I’m still not entirely positive in my decision) and a big part of this made me realize how this disease has impacted some of my most important relationships.
I read an article once in which a chronically ill person compared having a chronic disease to having a gorilla follow you around everywhere. It might sound silly to those who aren’t familiar with chronic illness but it’s painfully accurate. Read about it here: “The Gorilla In Your House”.
Chronic Illness becomes a part of everything you do. You simply don’t have the option to turn it off. It changes the way you relate to the world and the people in it. It often requires more attention than you have to offer. Chronic disease is demanding and it likes to get its grubby hands on all that matters to you.
Understanding chronic illness is not something that everyone is good at. It often is truly debilitating and this is a fact that is very difficult for some people to accept. Especially, if you have an invisible illness (like I do) then most people don’t even believe you when you tell them just how sick you are. Once in a while, we are blessed with a person in our lives who expects nothing from us and whose love for us just grows stronger when we are in need. These kinds of people will never make you feel like a failure for having a disease that has severely limited you. These kinds of people are the kinds that help you make it through.
Sadly, not everyone has the capacity to love in this manner and most people will take notice of each time you’ve failed them because of your disease. Once you have a chronic illness you become much less able and, in most relationships, this will breed resentment. Sometimes, it just looks like you’re no longer interested in anything but yourself and have found an excuse that you can permanently stick to. Those who truly suffer from any kind of chronic illness know that this is not the case. But there is no way to convince someone who doesn’t understand how illness can affect you that you aren’t being selfish, that you’re just being sick.
Having a chronic disease will be difficult on your relationships, but it will also be revealing. Enough time being ill and you’ll know who is self-interested, who truly loves you, who is patient, who is kind, etc. It will shine a bright light on all those around you, yourself included. Many relationships won’t survive a chronic disease, but the ones that do are worth cherishing forever.
The best advice I can give is to not allow your chronic illness to turn you into someone you don’t like. You might not be able to work as many hours, or cook and clean, or go out and be fun anymore. But, you still have it in your full control to be kind, patient and loving (even if those around you aren’t). Your attitude can lighten both your burden and the burden of those caring for you.
I’ve learned to stop fighting against my gorilla. I just made a room for him in my home and decided that I will not allow him to make me angry and bitter. If I can learn to deal with my gorilla, I hope that those around me can as well.