When you’re chronically ill, you’ll probably experience times when you feel like you’re adrift in a sea of pain, fatigue and debilitating symptoms.
In the distance, you can see people running and playing on the beach. But you’re too far out for them to hear you cry for help.
Confidently you start swimming towards the shoreline. It’s tiring and progress is slow, but you’re getting closer with every stroke.
Then, all of a sudden, an undercurrent gets you off course. You desperately try to fight it, but the pull of the water is just too strong. With every passing minute you’re drifting further out into the ocean.
Suddenly you find yourself in rough water. The waves seem to be getting higher by the minute and you’re struggling to keep your head above water. You’re cold, wet and exhausted from treading water and you start to panic. What’s happening? What should I do? How do I get out of here?
With all your might you try to push the thought of what might be hiding under the surface out of your mind.
Instead, you start pondering on solutions. Do I try to swim against the current and put all my power into peddling back to where I meant to go? Do I save my energy and drift along to wherever the wind and water takes me? Do I make a courageous attempt to dive through the oncoming waves, even though I have no clue how to do that or where I’ll end up?
The truth is, I don’t have the answer. Unlike the real world, there are no safety guidelines for navigating the sea of chronic illness.
Here’s what I do know.