Your Relationship with Chronic Illness is Personal
Let me begin by stating that I do not have multiple sclerosis, Let me also say that how one deals with their chronic illness is extremely personal and cannot be deemed as right or wrong. However, this is something that people who struggle with chronic illness face, and it is not something that ends after you decide. For example, perhaps you decide to accept your illness. This doesn’t mean that 5 years down the road you aren’t willing to re-evaluate, or vice versa. Chronic illness is a beast, and because it is something you have for the entirety of your life, it can be a very fluid, ever-changing beast.
Be Pissed. Be Accepting. Be Both.
I read the article in Hollywood Life about Christina Applegate’s struggle with MS and how she admits she’s “never going to accept this.” When I read this, I was admittedly a little torn in my sentiments. I have several chronic autoimmune disorders that have absolutely changed the trajectory of my life. This isn’t where I thought I would be and what I thought I would be doing at 48 years old. The last ten years have been turbulent and much of it spent trying to accurately diagnose my illness. In the beginning, I was very much in that same camp of, “No, I am not about to let this defeat me. I am pissed.” But then, after a few years, I migrated toward an acceptance of my illness and how it changed my life. But after another year or two, I realized that you can live in both camps. I accept my illness. After all, it’s not going to change; there is no cure, and all I can do is manage from day to day. But I can still be angry and unwilling to allow this beast to take any more from me.
The complexity of Chronic Illness.
It is also scary. It can fluctuate from day to day. Hell, it can change from hour to hour. Sometimes, it can change so drastically that you look in the mirror and you don’t recognize yourself or your life anymore. Chronic illness means living life “a quarter mile at a time.” Enjoying things you can when you can; taking time to slow down and rest when you need to, despite what anyone else thinks. It also means fighting like hell and railing against your illness when you can. Hating it. Mourning your life before. There’s no right or wrong way to accept this change in life. You deal with it each day in whatever way you think is most effective.
What You Choose Is Enough.
I applaud Christina Applegate’s authenticity and her perseverance through this ever-evolving illness. It isn’t easy for anyone to accept that they aren’t able to function as they once did or to accept help, whether from a walking aid or a human. It isn’t easy to watch your body change helplessly because there isn’t anything you can do about it. After all, your body is fighting against you. There’s no other way to say it, other than it is hard- really hard. There’s no cookie-cutter approach to handling this kind of diagnosis or how you proceed with your life afterward. You do what you need to do when you need to. That is all. It’s enough.