This can be quite a difficult topic and filled with emotions for many fellow chronic sufferers, and for a long time it has been difficult for me too.
It seems ironic that from the first moment we experience symptoms and we suspect something isn’t right that we can often try so hard to ignore and hide what is happening to us… Until we can’t any longer. At least that’s what I did. As much as I could anyway.
It is almost incomprehensible that we should then have to spend so much more time and energy trying to convince other doctors and even specialists that something is terribly wrong.
Sadly this can take years!
The average time for diagnosis of an Autoimmune disease is a staggering 8 years! This simply isn’t good enough.
During this time we can experience the most awful and heartbreaking treatment from those around us, all questioning our honesty, integrity, credibility and character… as if we were not suffering enough!!
Waiting for validation and empathy can be an exercise in frustration and heartbreak because, in the end, we must ultimately ask ourselves do those who doubt and dismiss us really matter? Do we need the validation of those who would treat us in such a way in the first place?
It took me several years and quite a few tears to realize this brutal truth.
No, [They] don’t matter and they will not be part of our coping with the years and battles ahead.
So many people write to me and post in support groups about the heartbreak and frustration of being doubted, belittled, attacked, embarrassed and abandoned. It can be almost unbearable; but we must find a way to endure.
Our circles tend to shrink and this is a very critical time when we can start to develop the strength and self belief we need to go forward.
We have to learn how to accept and believe in ourselves, even if very few other people do. It is a real ‘trial by fire’. If we didn’t have very good self confidence and self esteem prior to this point in our lives than it can be the hardest challenge we may ever face. But it is critical that we do it in the best way we can.
After over a decade of being severely affected by my diseases I have changed so much, and I believe that self validation has been an area that has experienced the most change during this time, but it has also been the slowest.
It took a long time to start to rebuild my shattered self esteem and to plant the seeds of self belief, perhaps I never really had those skills before, but I am pleased to say that I have now made real inroads. How? I had to remind myself that I don’t require someone to believe in or experience my day to day reality in order to make it real. I already know it is. I live it every moment of every day.
I also realize that peoples perceptions and beliefs about me and who I am are their choices, it is not my job to change their minds or convince them to love and accept me. I don’t have to beg for people’s kindness and compassion… And I won’t. Not even from the medical profession.
People who don’t really know me and who I am are free to do and think what they will. But my life is only changed and improved by what I think and believe about myself.
And there it is.
Learning how we can validate ourselves can be the single most empowering thing we can do for our illnesses and for our lives in general.
I have also valued from my partners example in this area too. He has become a very stabilizing force of self belief and self acceptance. His confidence has grown as he began taking on these challenges with me and it has become a real team effort. I marvel how he has risen to his challenges too and has never once doubted my authenticity and character.
However we begin to work on this important area the main thing is that we do begin. Again and again, for as long as it takes, until our own voice and our own beliefs become stronger and louder than anyone else’s.
… I believe in you!