Because I am an advocate, people often ask me if I went through the emotional tribulations that come with living with chronic illness and pain. They see someone who appears confident, someone who sees the glass half full rather than half empty.
For the most part, that’s true. But have I ever felt sorry for myself? Sure, I have. Have I ever felt like I wanted to give up? That I couldn’t win the fight? Of course, I did. I still do sometimes. I have just learned that making the choice to see the glass half full makes my life a whole lot easier.
Chronic illnesses like arthritis really have devastating effect on your self-esteem and overall well-being. Regardless of the levels of pain you’re in (big or small), the mental and emotional aspects of chronic illness are much more difficult. Chronic illness takes a lot away from you and it forces you to doubt yourself, makes you helpless and powerless and brings with it fears and anxieties.
Dealing with Self-Pity
I do remember feeling sorry for myself and, looking back, I am not sure I recognize that person. When my diagnosis came after a major flare-up (that lasted over six months), I was in no position to feel confident. I was in so much pain I didn’t think I could handle life. Self-doubt became my best friend.
I thought finally getting a diagnosis would bring a conclusion to what was happening in me, but I found that once I had a diagnosis, there were more questions than answers. I wanted peace and what I got was chaos.
That is not a part of my life I like to talk about, but I share it because it is part of my road to acceptance. Newly diagnosed patients (and even those with some experience) need justification that their feelings are normal and they want to know that something — anything — will get better.
Even someone like me, who appears to have it all together when it comes to living with chronic illness, doesn’t have full control. Just like everyone else, I dealt with bouts of sadness and depression. I hate what RA and fibro took from me. I hate that when I take the stairs I sometimes feel out of breath because pain keeps me from doing them often or being as active as I used to be. I hate all the odd symptoms that appear out of the blue and make me wonder what’s going on. I hate that I forget to mention them at a doctor visit and end up putting them off until next time. I also don’t want anyone to see me as a chronic complainer. Like the next person, I do have moments of self-doubt. So, yes, I do feel sorry for myself sometimes.