Turning 30 with a Chronic Illness

Its been 6 years since I started showing symptoms, and over 3 years since my last post and with a chronic illness time still flies by, but on the other hand it can seem like a life time has passed since I was healthy, working hard and playing harder.

It is true a life time has passed by, the life I could have had, the life i thought I would have had when I when I was 23. It is so easy when remembering to romanticise the past.

In the first few years of having ME/CFS I thought a lot about what I had lost: being able to work full time, going out clubbing ,to festivals with out a care in the world, the spontaneous trips, being away or doing something almost every weekend, working/ living abroad, and with all the effort on creating a positive mindset it was hard not to get depressed about all the could have beens and what ifs.

But they were exactly that: what ifs! There was no guarantee that I would have done a secondment in some exotic country or even been happy doing that, and with all likelihood over the last 7 years I would have got tired of going out every Friday/ Saturday night buying expensive cocktails being covered in other peoples sweat and split drinks, living near the centre and walking home heels in hand, god the thought of doing that now makes me cringe.

When I was ‘healthy’ pre ME/CFS I still suffered with mental health issues, suffering with depression on an off since my mid teens on and off anti depressants since I was 18, but it is so easy to forget about all of  that and think about how perfect life was before you became ill.

This year I turned the big 30, it seems like 30 is quite a loaded year for any woman to turn, it’s that age that some how tells you your biological clock is ticking, when those of the older generations start making more and more comments about when you are planning of having children. The majority of my friends have been married for a few years are slowly and surely starting to have children.

It is easy to get absorbed in feelings of being left behind, like I did when I gave up so much when i first became ill.  It isn’t that I wasn’t happy seeing my friends getting married to the loves of their life or having beautiful adorable babies, and it isn’t like I am not in a loving committed relationship to the most wonderful caring man I have ever met, but there was always that nasty little voice that whispered you are not enough for him, he feels trapped, like he has to be with me.

None of which could be further from the truth, we started dating less than a year before I started showing symptoms, 18 months into our relationship I would often need help moving from my bed to the bathroom; the time we were meant to be care free and spontaneous, he became more of a carer than a boyfriend, there were times I would push him away, trying to give him an ‘out’ ,a life line to escape but he never took it.

Its so hard to not compare your relationship to those of your friends, seeing things a some sort of competition of who gets to certain milestones first, who’s house is nicer. Being the person with the chronic illness in a relationship it is so easy to see yourself as the person not only holding yourself back but holding back your partner as well.

I have learnt over the last 7 years that this isn’t really the case at all, my partner is with me because he loves me, he does things to help me because he loves me and wants to make sure I am ok.

I love our life, we live in a wonderful house, have lovely friends a beautiful crazy dog and last July we got engaged and are in the middle of planning our wedding for next June.

This stage of my life brings more questions more self doubt, no longer do I doubt whether my partner truly loves me or is with me out of guilt or some sense of obligation. I cannot wait to marry the man I love so much, who I know loves me so deeply, it may have taken us longer to get here than our friends but so what, every relationship is different with their own obstacles and I love how our relationship has grown.

The little nasty whispers in the back of  my head have now turned into motherhood, that ticking biological clock that screams don’t leave it too late, I mean I’m only 30 for god sake! The what if I can’t get pregnant, what if I am a bad mother, what if, what if what if!

What is it about these what ifs, I know it isn’t just something that effects people with chronic illnesses, i used to get them pre ME/CFS but understandably now they have a juicy extra layer of potency now as I think of all the ways my illness could effect some imaginary future child, I mean how narcissistic is that!

How will I cope with what the future holds? Such a big question yet the answer is simple in theory hard in practice. Like i have coped with everything in life to date, both pre and post having ME/CFS taking one day at a time, a lot of trial and error, there will be tears and laughter, moments when i wonder what the hell am I doing , others when I feel all warm inside ,feeling so perfectly happy and content. I mean thats life, it has its ups and downs.

There are times when my illness takes over, when I crash, which is always more manageable when it is planned for example because i have done something i know is beyond my capability but i really wanted to (What I like to call Hell Yea moments ) less great when they come out of the blue, either due to stress, getting a cold or just randomly for no known reason!  But I deal with them as they come up and REST REST and REST!

I guess what I am trying to say or at least try to get across, is for me at least and many others with ME/CFS or other chronic illness  there is life after being diagnosed, maybe a different from the life you once imagined, but it can be just as special and magical but different.

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