After more than a decade of battling active autoimmune diseases I can honestly say two things with certainty 1. You will never truly know how much you can endure and suffer and 2. People will always want to blame you for your diseases.
Over the years I can’t count how many times I have uttered the words “I can’t take this anymore… I have had enough”. Many times I have begged for an end. Nobody wants to know this and they tend to look down on you for admitting that these diseases can take us to the edge of a physical and emotional abyss. But they do.
Even the strongest and most hardened survivor has begged for death and release more than once, of that I am completely positive. It’s not necessarily that we want to die but we want release and an end to suffering. I would never have imagined, years ago, that such diseases could exist and that they would take me to such depths of despair. Never. But they do. You will never know how much one body can take and how much you can endure until you have an autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune diseases changes the way you look back on your previous life and anything that you went through before. Old hurts and pains pale by comparison. Old struggles seem insignificant and past failures feel like mere child’s play things compared to the new daily realities. It also changes the way you interpret other people’s opinions and challenges.
I confess I don’t view the struggles of others in the same ways I did before these diseases. I have always listened respectfully as person A tells me about their difficulties at work or person B complains of their troublesome knee but my true thoughts are kept well hidden. It’s not that I lack affection or empathy for such people but the brutal and honest truth is that I would give anything to trade places with them. Anything.
Which brings me to the saddest realization over the past decade and that is that almost every person you will meet will always want to blame you for your condition and your suffering. They want to believe it so badly that they will construct any and every possible explanation they can in order to blame you for your situation and diseases. I have learned to train myself to simply look through these people or ignore them in the kindest way I know how; although it is a real test at times!
Even now I get messages about supplements, diets, religions, exercises, positive attitudes and so on and so forth, all supposedly about curing my diseases… As though I haven’t tried to do any of things for myself!
People who want to convince you that by simply dropping certain foods, or hopping on your left leg on alternate days, seem so convinced of their own diagnosis and perceptions that they will go so far as to besmirch your character if you don’t immediately follow their advice. They tell themselves that this is proof that you have caused your own illnesses and you don’t really want to get better.
I used to be deeply hurt and troubled by these persons but not any longer. When I put them in perspective and I look at all I must contend with on a daily level they are easy to assign the priority and significance that they deserve.
I will mention here that I believe that there is a small portion of these people that are truly well meaning and genuinely caring but those people are easy to recognize as they are there in many other ways and remain devoted, loyal friends and loved ones.
They don’t just appear out of nowhere with their opinions and instructions and then disappear again.
Those people that do want to blame you for your illnesses are not really part of the bigger picture of our lives as sufferers and so they must be given the attention and emotions that they deserve. Nowadays when faced with a person, opinion or a comment about my life and my battles I ask myself this simple question
will such people be present at your end or ever be around during your hardest moments?
If the answer is no than they must be given the status and attention they deserve.
Despite the certainties that I have explained above there is still so much uncertainty in my daily life and my future, but with each passing day and passing challenge I amaze myself and I find new ways of seeing life. Uncertainty becomes easier and putting things into real perspective becomes a talent that only the battle hardened can possess. I have new wisdom and insight that I would never have possessed and that is one more thing I know for certain!