Editor’s Note: Lauren McGrath is a 19-year old college student in Australia who submitted this column as part of September as Pain Awareness Month
I have written a few personal blogs since my diagnosis of Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, and PCOS in March of 2014. However these blog posts have been written for viewing of friends and family not the general public. Since then, I have also been diagnosed with Bladder dysfunction from a surgery gone wrong, miscarried my baby and been diagnosed infertile. To say that the journey has been tough is an understatement. After each diagnosis there comes a grieving period. The most recent grieving period I’ve found myself on lately is that of relationships, be that with old friends, family members and partners.
Unless this is a journey you have found yourself on, it is one that can be hard to understand. How do you grieve for something that technically is still there? Well, it’s easy… it isn’t there, at least not in the way that you need or deserve.
For many sufferers of chronic illness, their lives are full on doctors’ appointments, surgeries, medications and a wide range of symptoms that can make the simplest of tasks seem like a battle front.
It’s hard for the family and friends of sufferers to understand the struggle they face on a daily basis. It is almost as though they have gone from being completely relatable to a person to now having no common ground because there’s this big invisible wall between them called chronic illness. A wall that either people choose not to pay attention to, or a wall they are completely oblivious to because it simply cannot make sense to them.
Can you blame them?
What part of getting a new doctor or a surgery date is exciting to someone in perfect health?!
But this wall doesn’t just appear. It is built up over time, piece by piece. It starts with the second guessing, then to the complete denial of others, their lack of knowledge and understanding and their inability to listen. It comes from them judging your treatment options, throwing out healing options, like eating right or just have a baby, have a hysterectomy. The listening goes on until suddenly there is a complete wall built between yourself and that person.
Quite often we are referred to as lazy and exaggerating our circumstances. Often receiving comments like, “but it’s not cancer,” or “people have it worse.” Or in my case – “it’s just period pain! Every woman experiences it, get over it and move on!” Oh if only it was that easy! I would love nothing more than to be able to get up every morning and head to a full time job I love, not need medications, not need surgeries. But that’s not my reality, and that is okay (it has taken years for me to actually believe this!). Chronic illness doesn’t just strip us of our health, and our normal lives, but also of our families, our friends. The people we thought to always be there for us, the people we would always be there for. Whether they were your mentor, your sister, your mother, chronic illness strips us of them. Because they don’t understand, they don’t get it. They don’t get the pain, they don’t get the struggle. All they see is someone who *looks* healthy on the inside but whose body is raging war within.
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