When chronic illness meets mental illness

I try every single day to wake up and remain positive. I wake up and I say my prayer every morning as I did the night before. I force feed myself something to give my body energy. I shove pills down my throat I dread taking. I set goals for my day. But it’s easier said than done sometimes. It’s extremely difficult when you’re simply not in control of your own mind or body.

It seems as though every medication’s purpose is to help you in some way, but 50% of these medications also brings along almost unbearable side effects. For example, one of my medications makes me nauseous so I have another medication to treat nausea, but then the side effects of the nausea medicine is headaches, dizziness, fatigue. Meanwhile i’m on another medication to prevent me from seizing (vital to take it), yet it turns you into a completely different person mentally that you can’t stand to be. It’s like i’m constantly just swapping out one symptom for another negative attribute. Ive never been one to hate pharmaceuticals until lately. What’s the point of attempting to be healthy if it strips you of everything that makes you- you?

And that’s just the biological piece of it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never imagined i’d be feeling some of the ways i’ve felt the past few months. It’s hard to explain to someone why you don’t feel like yourself anymore, but maybe more people would be able to understand you if they just took a moment to truly step into your shoes.

A lot of people also think that not being in control of your body just means physically, but it doesn’t. You can shove positive thoughts into your ears all day long, but that doesn’t mean that your brain chemistry can just flip a switch and change. Especially when you’re forced to take drugs that are causing you to think and feel entirely different. I know that i’m not always a happy and endlessly positive person, but I can truly say that I’ve tried with every ounce of my being to become one amidst everything i’m going through. But it just doesn’t work like that all the time.

Imagine being unable to drive yourself anywhere, whether it be 5 minutes down the road for a candy bar or 5 hours to see friends. When you used to be the kind of person that would get in the car and drive 8+ hours to South Carolina just because.

Imagine no longer looking like everyone around you. Whether it be the lack of hair or dark circles under your eyes, the heaviest of makeup can’t rescue your confidence anymore.

Imagine knowing it’ll be 2 years until you’ll be able to have naturally beautiful hair without a wig, and having your friends complain about their split ends.

Imagine waking up with a list of plans and goals, but your body telling you that today it wants to give you a hard time and you’ll have to just stay in bed and deal with it.

Imagine being stared at by kids and adults alike, not in the way you’d hope. You’re no longer a beautiful youthful college student, you’re someone who everyone asks “what’s wrong with her?”. 

Imagine the anxiety of feeling absolutely miserable most days, and being told by board certified doctors that they just don’t know yet. 

Imagine watching your friends enjoy themselves and make memories without you in them. 

Imagine having to give away every goal that you’ve made for yourself. You can’t work, you can’t be on your own, you can barely go to school. You’re back to being 5 years old.

Imagine having your life be completely flipped upside down every other week, and you’re just expected to deal with it and stay tough.

Being ill takes things away from you every day. Things you’re unable to do or people you’re unable to see. It is devastating to lose something you love, pieces of you, especially when it happens over and over again. This is the sad truth of being chronically ill though; you will lose major pieces of your life and identity along the way. Losing my dream job was not the first passion I lost, and I am sure it will not be the last. Neither was losing my hair, my friends, or my confidence. It does not mean that it did not hurt any less though. You don’t “get used to” feeling sick every day of your life. You don’t “get used to” losing things you once thrived on, passion after passion. You never “get used to” the loss that chronic illness overwhelms you with.

Of course I know that it could always be worse. There are so many things that I can imagine being without that I fortunately still have and am so thankful for. Don’t think that I don’t realize that I could always be sicker. I could always have no friends or support to begin with. Hell, they could find a cure tomorrow so I should just be thankful right? I could always feel worse. But I don’t. This is what I feel. This is just a glimpse into what I feel. Its anxiety. It’s depression. It’s anger.  It’s strong and debilitating and that deserves some merit.

My ability to combat times where my chronic physical illnesses acts up is extremely reliant on confidence, motivation, and other strengths of my mind and way of thinking. But, evidently, I cannot often apply this same method to overcoming mental illnesses – as they are a dysfunction of the same mind that exhibits the perseverance I need to overcome.

It seems to people on the outside that everything can be fixed with a positive atittutude, but I can tell you first hand that it can’t. And that’s okay. No one is allowed to tell you that you’re not trying hard enough to feel better if they aren’t you. All that you can do is the best that you can, and sometimes that’s still not enough. That’s okay. 

The results of this coexistence between mindset dependency and mindset difficulty is tedious. It requires me to both hold onto my ways, as well as forget certain aspects of my daily life, and develop others to get through it. The time in which there was one, a simple solution is now history. That’s something I used to take for granted. But, my recognition and need to remind myself carries the weight of fear, confusion, and hesitancy to trek unknown territory. It is one thing to think and process and understand. Most times, when we do these things incorrectly, we fall short and start again. But in times of illness, pain, and fear, the severity of failure magnifies. I come from depths where the handling of my predicaments is the difference between sinking and swimming. So, naturally, having to re-develop mindset and thought processes is not one I take and do easily. I am scared. I am hesitant. But fortunately, I am not alone. Whether I feel his presence or not, I know that God is doing this for a reason. He’s putting me through what I am for a reason and I need to just follow his path.


One thought on “When chronic illness meets mental illness

  1. Hi Jordy! I saw your story on BuzzFeed, and I cannot tell you how much your blog has resonated with me. I was diagnosed with epilepsy at 19 years old along with an autoimmune disease, and reading your blog has captured every emotion I’ve experienced in my journey into words I could never have thought to describe as beautifully as you have. My name is Amy Cummings, I added you on Facebook because I’d really like to ask you about your experience and also which epilepsy medications have caused you this trouble (only if you’re comfortable with sharing that information of course). Although our experiences are different, I know how it feels to have your mind and body seem to suddenly turn against you during a time in life when everyone is finding themselves in college, and I have also lost people I cared about who looked the other way when all of this was happening. Apologies if I’m coming on too strong, I just had no idea that there was someone who shared similar life experiences as much as you have when I read about your life story. Hope to hear from you 🙂 stay strong.


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