We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s not you, it’s me.”
It’s used during break ups, movie scenes, or the end of a friendship to try and soften the blow. Sometimes it’s used as a joke or sarcasm when giving the other person your reason for calling it quits.
Lately, I’ve used that term in my everyday life more than I would wish to.
Every week I have my chemotherapy treatments on Fridays and like clockwork my body goes through several different stages. First I become sick to my stomach and soon begin to vomit. Headaches follow, until I’m finally so drained I sleep for what feels like days.
My mood changes and I can go from crying to complete anger without a cause in a split second. I’m not mad at anyone except my body for making me sick, but I always make my husband suffer the most.
After more than three years together he knows it’s not the real “me” talking. It’s the medications, the diseases, and the side effects. I’ve apologized so many times I think he’s lost count, but he knows it really isn’t anything he’s done. It’s me.
I don’t know how to control what the treatments do to me. I become someone I don’t know, and hate myself for being so weak, sensitive and vulnerable at times.
When I go through these stages my bedroom becomes my safe haven. I refuse to be seen by anyone besides my family. The few times I’m around others they see me as being anti-social, because I would rather keep my head down on a table as opposed to talking to them.
But it’s not them, it’s me.
How do you explain to people that every week you’re going to become a different person who can’t be controlled? For just those few days I’d love to be anyone else, because at that time I hate my body and the fact that its let me down.
It’s no one’s fault that I’m sick. It’s no one’s fault that I have to go through these treatments, and it’s no one’s fault that my medications are slowly killing me.
But I want to blame everyone else because they aren’t suffering with me. I want others to feel what I feel for just one day so they would stop avoiding me.
The person who wants these things isn’t me. It’s the disease.
I often write about the difficulties, pain and dark side of auto-immune disorders. But I think I may be giving people the wrong idea of myself. I’m extremely happy with my children, husband, and those I consider my real friends. But pain is not rainbows and butterflies, so I want people to see and hear that there is a different world of people walking around with them. It could be a neighbor, sibling, or a complete stranger. But we do exist.
Show compassion instead of judgment, kindness instead of a cold shoulder, and support as opposed to your back. We may be having a rough day or you may have caught us when our pain is heightened, but it’s not something you’ve done. Sometimes we can’t control our body, thoughts or emotions.
Just remember that deep down inside is the real us. Just take the time to weed out the medical side effects to find it.
Arlene Grau lives in Lakewood, California with her family. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.