#2013

It’s been four years since this photo and yet I get goosebumps just thinking about where I was at, both physically and mentally.

I was falling #sick with a cold or a stomach flu every other week, reacting to medicines which were supposed to help, afraid to be alone in my own bedroom, finding it hard to eat, needing help to wash my hair and sometimes even to brush my teeth, hating on my body for being fragile and weak, struggling to protect myself from people, fighting with school because they had no policies in place for people with medical issues, crying myself to bed every night, falling asleep with a strange emptiness in my #heart, waking up to feeling suffocated, hating on my creativity because I couldn’t pursue it the way I wanted to, feeling like every day was an absolute drag… I was claustrophobic in my own #body and #mind.

I wonder if this photo says any of that.

2013 was the year I knew I was done with everyone and everything around, including myself. Something needed to shift and I didn’t know what or how. All I knew was that life couldn’t possibly feel the way it did. Despite feeling like a hostage to my own #existence, there was a glimmer of #hope, a constant knowing that nothing was going to change until I decided to step up to where #life was heading. Stepping up at that point meant pausing and for once allowing myself to let it all sink in. Nothing was going to be anything like I had once imagined and I had to come to terms with that. I couldn’t distract or push myself anymore and I felt horrible. Who thinks about pausing/stopping at 23, right?

The thing is, some of us reach a point in our lives when we are faced with circumstances so real we simply can’t look away from them. Greater things are at play and our personal plans and effort make no sense. Life keeps finding ways to force us to look at what’s being presented and leaves us with two choices – to keep #suffering by avoiding pain OR to acknowledge pain and learn to #rise from there. #trust #acceptance #health #mentalhealth #pause #rest #recover

Looking back, I suppose there were things I had in 2013 which lead me to be where I’m at today. The daily struggle and fight have definitely added to all that I have become as a person and in some ways I’m grateful for it (not for the fight but for what came out of it). Of course, gratitude seemed like the last thing on my mind at that point in time because I was in this terribly dark space. Practicing and expressing gratitude, learning to accept whole and broken parts of me and making choices that honour my health (both mental + physical) has taken time and conscious work. I still have rough days but I’ve made peace with the fact that harder days are part and parcel of learning to live with a chronic illness. Today, I know better than ever before that while life is capable of giving you 5 reasons to fear, hate, complain, it will give you at least three reasons to trust, love and grow.

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#butyoudontlooksick

I recently met someone who told me that I don’t look sick at all.

I smiled.

I said, “I know. I’m happy I don’t I guess.”

It never fails to make me wonder what we expect “sick” people to look like. What we define as “broken”. What we think needs “fixing”. Whether “imperfections” are always visible and whether what we see is all that there is.

There was a phase when I wished people looked at me and believed my words. These days I trust that people who need to know will see it for themselves and trust me, while the rest are free to create a story around it. Believe me, you can’t completely hide chronic/rare illnesses.

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You don’t have to look sick to be sick or feel sick.

And you don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

All you have to do is attempt to feel and be as healthy as possible, and always be honest with yourself – that’s all that matters.

Lots of love

MD

 

An Extra Mile. 

 
You see, if you’re dealing with an invisible illness, a chronic or rare illness or some sort which doesn’t always show, you tend to get a lot of this:

“But you don’t LOOK sick!”

A funny meme that I found on invisible illness had a response to the above going somewhat like this, “Please tell me, what does sick look like? I’ll make sure to harder next time.”

Yes, there are times I feel frustrated and would want to give a similar reply but I rarely ever do. Because I understand it’s only normal to expect a “sick” person to LOOK sick. You’d usually expect a handicapped person to be on a wheelchair, right?

The truth is, a lot of us choose to not look sick. All you have to do is turn our bodies inside out and you may see it for yourself. It’s a conscious choice. One of those daily choices we make; one of those which may not even come across as something anyone else might need to stop and think about.

I know, life is all about making choices for all of us. Whether you’re sick or not.

But making a choice out of limited options, creating possibilities out of painful hurdles, turning physical weaknesses into mental and emotional strength, using all the brain power to keep you up and going, and having to consider bodily consequences for every little action, every move, through the day, is simply not the same.

We love to talk about strength; about how strong our body is, how toned or attractive we are, and that’s brilliant! But I’ve learnt over time, through personal experience, there is no strength like the strength that comes from within. From deep within. It’s the kind of strength that sometimes lies underneath the most nasty emotions but it’s still right there, to keep you motivated and to help you up each time you fall (literally and metaphorically).

That’s why I like to think, a lot of us may be physically fragile, but we’re mentally unbreakable. We might lose our balance, but we come right back and we’re stronger each time. We spend so much time and effort on our body and its needs that nothing else is as important anymore. What can be more of value than your own health? I can say this today, barely anything. In fact, I’d like to say nothing. Nothing comes close to health in terms of priority.

On days like today, I have to go an extra mile – to look less like a patient and be more patient with my body. It has come a long way and it has a long way to go.

Love,

Manasi Dalvi