You are more than parts or symptoms or a broken body.
Sometimes it feels as though my life is dictated and consumed by my health problems. The day to day is dictated by my body, limiting what I do. I feel as though I’ve lost the better part of my 20s because of my health. Even though the ileostomy should help me eventually get some semblance of a life back, my body is still exhausted and unpredictable. Years of having to plan, to avoid, to make excuses, of being unwell, have left an indelible mark on my life, and my brain can’t forget that. I still struggle with my health, and with the emotional impact.
When there’s something “not normal” with some part(s) of our bodies or the way we function, it’s easy to zone in on this and focus on it. This can be our mental health or our physical health. It can become all-encompassing, time exhaustive and all consuming. So much so that who we are seems to get lost along the way.
Who we are is more than separate parts of a body. We should not be defined, described or remembered simply by what is “wrong” with our health. You have a lot to offer, including and above the bits that do work; a personality with no bounds, a sense of humour, style, intelligence, creativity, compassion, beauty, talents, loyalty, generosity, empathy, freedom of choice and speech.
You are a person of value. Not a number, a bunch of symptoms, a list of “faults” or limitations, or a condition.
Take some time to make a list of what you like about yourself, which is easier said than done sometimes. List how others would describe you, or ask them if you find this difficult. What do you want to do with your life, who do you want to be? Think of all the parts of you that do work and list the reasons to be grateful, and think of all the myriad of cells, neutrons and chemicals that are doing vital jobs you’re unaware of usually. Don’t include your invisible illness anywhere when thinking about these things, which is a challenge in itself.
You are free, limitless. You may feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself and who you are, and that’s okay, it’s normal. I know I did, and still do sometimes; it can seem crushing and overwhelming and leave you feeling empty. But what’s lost can be found, and what’s hidden can be discovered. You have more going for you than you may realise, there’s more to you and your life than symptoms and problems. If you’ve lost some of yourself along the way, don’t forget that it’s never too late to create a life you want and deserve, to be the person you want to be.