Sickness & Guilt

In my life, being chronically ill has meant not working out, not going to school, not getting out of bed, and on some days not even waking up.

Within the first few months of being sick, I had to switch to online schooling. It was completely impossible for me to pay attention during class and within the first month of my senior year, I had already accrued almost enough absences to be disqualified from graduating. Now, several years later, I have recently begun in-person schooling again. I absolutely love being at school again. I love going to my classes, I love talking to people, and I love being able to leave the house.

Of course, on some days, this is still not feasible. Some mornings I wake up for school and realize I am not able to get out of bed. When this happens, I usually go back to sleep only to awake a few hours later and realize that I’ve missed another day of school.

I don’t drink, but I imagine this experience is similar to when someone wakes up after a night of hard partying. You feel like crap, you’re incapable of functioning like a normal human, you’ve lost hours of your life and you’re not really sure what happened during them, and on top of all of that, you’re now way behind on work.

It is super not fun.

On days like this, it is so easy to hate yourself. You wake up trapped in a body that won’t let you do the things you want to do. I’m a college student that desperately wants to attend class. I just want to be able to do what literally everyone around me is doing with absolutely no problem. I want to go to class and learn and stay awake long enough to do my homework. I would love to get a job. I want to have the energy to meet new people and spend time with my friends.

The bottom line is that I’m never going to be able to do all of those things without issue. On some days, I’m almost okay with that fact. But on other days, especially those staying-in-bed days, I hate the body that I am trapped in.

There are a lot of very negative emotions that come with that hatred:

  • Anger. I get mad at life and at karma and at God and at any other cosmic being that I can point my anger towards. Most of all, I get mad at myself for having such huge limitations in the first place.
  • Hopelessness. When I’m feeling particularly sick, it makes me take a good long look at my life. Sometimes I am weighted down by the prospect of living my entire life this way. I look at the next 4+ years of school, a future job, raising kids and having a family, and I cannot help but feel that none of those things are worth doing. They make me too tired.  There is no cure for my conditions. There is nothing I can do to fix myself. I am stuck in a body that does not function. This knowledge is pretty good at driving all hope away.
  • Guilt. Above all, I feel guilty for allowing myself to be sick. I feel guilty for not going to school, for not cleaning my room, or for canceling plans with friends. I feel as if it is my fault that I cannot get out of bed. I feel like I’ve let down my teachers and my peers and my roommates and my parents and that cosmic force that I was yelling at before. I feel like I am being lazy.

Negative feelings are natural and normal and you are absolutely allowed to feel them. I would never sit here behind my laptop screen and tell you that your life isn’t that hard, you just have to look on the bright side! Ew. I want to puke just writing that.

But sick days do get a little easier when you accept that your limitations are a part of the life that is uniquely yours. This is not easy. I am not particularly good at this, and I’ve been practicing for years.

Some days I sit in my bed and cry and scream and curse the world.

Other days, I do what I can, forget what I can’t, and let myself be sick. After cursing the world a little.

We live in a fast-paced society. We don’t celebrate the athlete that takes a rest day (even though they need that rest day to become better!) or the mom that put her kids to bed early (even though she might have strangled them otherwise!). We celebrate the workaholic, the gym rat, and the supermom.

Days off are allowed. Taking care of yourself is allowed. Canceling plans is allowed. Being sad about being sick is allowed.

Being okay with your sick days is most definitely allowed.

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