Chronic illness is strange and upsetting, because over time the illness becomes your perspective of the world. Your body, your mind is incapable of resolving it, and so you slowly and unconsciously start to incorporate it into your worldview, as a way that you survive it. It becomes a very strange experience, because you’re no longer just looking at the world from the perspective of whatever you grew up with as a child, or whatever you currently believe in: beneath all of that there’s always this illness, the pain, the discomfort, the other issues that come up, all of which begin to define your worldview and the way that you interact your life and the world around you.
For example: if you have some issue where you have to go to the bathroom really often, then your world becomes confined to that world of always having a bathroom near enough. If you’re not comfortable with public restrooms it becomes even narrower, and then whatever else may come up around that starts to become a part of your perspective, your view of how your world must work to be comfortable and capable of taking care of yourself and your needs. On top of that there are the foods that support or don’t support you, the activities that cause more or less discomfort, the people and necessary interactions you may deal with on a daily basis…and the hardest part is the lack of understanding from people who see your narrow view as totally superfluous or weak or annoying to their lives.
It all comes back to the sense of a narrowing of your view of the world: what you’re capable of, what you need, who you talk do, whether or not you have the energy to do things you enjoy, things that are fun or exciting, things that make your life worth living. And this shift in how you view the world may be something you are conscious of and able to track, making it a real nightmare to see the slow degradation of your quality of life, or it may be something that you’re not consciously aware of, or even, given the length of the chronic illness, necessarily able to deal with or perceive in a different way – because sometimes it’s so subtle and so all-encompassing that the brainfog, the fatigue, the pain, the confusion just becomes the only way that you can see the world, and you can’t really remember what it was like before the illness.
So you’re just living in it. And that’s the world that you have. And you start to wonder “Was there ever a world before this? And, if there was, how do I get to that?” Or if you really, really accept “Okay, this is the world I live in now.” What do you do with it? If it’s still something that’s frustrating, that’s noticeable on the level that something just feel’s off, wrong in your life. That you still want to do something. You still want to somehow work with it, and find some way to feel better and make the world feel more real, more solid, more alive. Therapy can’t necessarily help cure a chronic medical disease, but it can help bring you back to your self, help you to find your way to internal resources you may have lost or forgotten were available. The wide range of symptoms that come with any chronic/lasting illness can make us doubt our own sanity, and doubt that there is health or happiness to be had; however, it is my strong belief that there is profound sanity and wellbeing that can be discovered even in the midst of the most traumatizing, stressful, and enduring of life experiences. Illness can be overwhelming, but it is less so when you can travel that path together with someone and you can explore the impacts your disease has had on your life, your relationships, and the people and things you love in your life.