I used to be very private about my chronic illness. I was terrified of being judged and invalidated, and this is because I had had so many negative experiences in the past when I did open up about my illness. I had family members who told me I was faking my symptoms. People at work disrespected my request to keep my illness private. And friends didn’t understand why I didn’t want to go out with them. Although their responses weren’t very kind or empathetic, I don’t hold it against these people. I realize now that their responses had nothing to do with me, but at the time, I let them influence my decision to remain silent about my illness.
Finding My Voice
After I received a formal diagnosis, I decided it was finally time to start speaking more openly about my experience with chronic illness. Having a diagnosis and a doctor who was willing to back me up gave me the confidence I needed. Discovering that half of the United States population is living with some form of chronic health condition made me realize I was not alone in my struggle. I knew I needed to start speaking up so others would know they were not alone. I knew if my voice could help someone, it was worth risking judgment and rejection.
Creating a Supportive Community
To my delight, I have been met with more support and love through the online chronic illness community than I have ever experienced anywhere else. There are always going to be people who don’t get it, but they are far outnumbered by the kind and empathetic people I choose to focus my energy on. Although I am more open about my chronic illness now, it doesn’t mean I have no boundaries around when...