Accomplishments and Chronic Illness

There are many times when I am told about someone’s life — what they’re doing, what they’ve done, their plans for the future — and, be it family member, friend, or complete stranger, I get absolutely sick with jealousy.  Like, actual jealousy, not envy, and that’s even worse.  Somehow, when I hear about other people’s accomplishments, I feel like they’re taking away my own.

When you have a chronic illness, your accomplishments move in slow motion.  You have to allow time for your body to catch up and heal before you can move on to your next project, sometimes before even moving to the next step of the one you’re on.  And trust me, you can’t bypass the rest time.  I’ve tried.  If you don’t stop, your body will make you stop.

If I can just stay within my own ill little world, I can manage.  I don’t think about things too much.  I do what I can, rest when I need to, and just keep moving at my own pace.  I usually get a lot more done when I’m in that world, but it often gets burst open.  I get news of a friend’s college acceptance, or see pictures of people full of energy, seemingly thriving in life, and it coats my eyes like dust.  I can’t see properly, it hurts, and the more I try to rub it out, the worse it gets.  I can’t see what I was doing anymore, only what they’re doing, and I certainly can’t remember why I was doing it.

The images of other people’s dreams glue themselves over my own, and suddenly they’re my dreams, too.  Of course, they’re not really, but they seem like the only worthwhile ones to have, so I obsess over them, dwell on them until I am truly miserable.  I’m getting better at bringing myself out of this, but most often, the remedy is just time.  Eventually, my own passions push through again, demand to be heard.  I remember I am ill, but I am not dead.  I am not bedridden, I am not in a coma; I am alive and conscious, and though I cannot do as much as I could if I had all my health, I can do something.

And so I do.  Lots of little somethings, and I watch as they grow towards the bigger somethings in my mind.  I do not move at the world’s pace, and sometimes it asks why I’m moving so slowly, but I’m not.  I’m just moving.

Photo by on Unsplash

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I'm Hannah. I'm 21, and chaotically creative. You can usually find me frustratedly hunched over some new craft I’m attempting, struggling to learn a new song on the ukulele, writing, drawing, singing, frowning or smiling at my camera depending on the success of my latest photo or video attempt, or sleeping.

4 thoughts on “Accomplishments and Chronic Illness”

  1. Dear Hannah, you are already a very accomplished young woman. Your strength is an inspiration to those who know you and I am proud to call you friend. XO, Mary C.

  2. I get jealous too. And I too had a chronic illness that held me back. Now that I’m healthy again, I’m struggling to find my footing again. My peers are graduating from university this year, while I’ll have to start from scratch at university, again.

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