An artistic sketch of a young woman's face with flowers in her hair.

It was over two years ago when my symptoms worsened, I got hospitalized and my life changed drastically. As I still had two years of high school to go through and was used to being with my friends at school and during my free time activities, the biggest change was brought along with the fact that I had to stop going to school with the others. I got an individual program and was learning everything myself at home and only came to school every now and then to take the tests and exams.

I also abandoned my hobbies and doing music, and was bound to spent most of my time for the next two years, at home or at the hospital.

At that moment everything changed.

Naturally, a majority of my relationships were affected as well – and it wasn’t a positive influence that my illness had on my relationships. Actually, as I’m sitting here, I can’t think of a relationship that wouldn’t be affected by my chronic illness in some way. The moment I was hospitalized and then never really got back to school feels like an imaginary dividing line of my life and I can’t help but see myself very isolated from the world around me.

My relationships with everyone, including my family members and my own relationship with myself, started changing.

I live in a small town from which it took about an hour to get to school and I’ve never found friends here. All the friends I’ve ever had were from different cities or the town of my school and suddenly I felt myself being completely isolated.

My fault was, perhaps, that I naively expected for things to stay more or less the same, in particular the way people look at me.

But what happened instead was that most people started seeing me just as my illness. Whenever I came by to school I got weird looks from everyone who noticed I wasn’t there – and who knew just a little bit or nothing about the reasons, since I was not keen on sharing any intimate details which were difficult for even myself to grasp. I suddenly got people commenting on the changes in my appearance freely as if they were entitled to comment on my fluctuating weight every single time they saw me. It was as if they gained the right to tell me I look awful, or didn’t look sick at all, and judge whether I was actually ill.

I found that most people felt like the things they wouldn’t normally comment on were acceptable to talk about when they were talking to me as a chronically ill person.

I was losing so many things I loved and used to do, I was struggling to feel anything positive towards myself. I felt like hating myself for being ill, and in the middle of that I couldn’t get people to ask me about anything else than my illness. I understood that part of it was people being genuinely concerned and a part of it was the inevitable gossip among my classmates. Part of the struggle was the fact that everyone thought I was just overreacting, being dramatic and avoiding school on purpose.

I got so many people telling me that I am so lucky to be ill because I didn’t have to go to school. Yet, I was struggling with the physical pain I was being put through by my illness, and I was not doing well mentally. I felt isolated from everyone who used to be…