Chronic Illness is a bitch. It takes everything that makes you ‘you’ and holds it hostage, indefinitely. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
Or is there?
Lizards can amputate their own tails as a self-defence mechanism to distract its predator. Kinda gross, but an excellent survival skill. Then, amazingly … they grow a new one. Likewise, sometimes we have no choice but to amputate parts of our identity in order to prevent Chronic Illness from killing us. But the good news is, like a lizard’s tail … we can generate a new identity.
Granted, we need time to grieve our loss, and our new identity is unlikely to ever look the same as our old one. However, this is our chance to discover a version of ourselves that we may never have discovered if we hadn’t got sick.
For example, I may never have discovered how much I love writing if I hadn’t lost so much of myself to M.E and POTS and started journalling about it. Or that I could start a blog and gain the wisdom and support of all you fantastic folk. And now that I’ve been writing for a while, it feels part of who I am – and it’s workable around my health.
Of course, sometimes life just sucks, and no amount of icing can make a turd into a cake. For example, I struggled a lot with becoming disabled in the early years, as it in no way resembled my old identity of ‘massive gym nut’. But whether I liked it or not, the whole housebound, wheelchair and stairlift thing kinda made me have to accept this new ‘disabled’ identity. That was definitely a turd.
However, that turd was the catalyst for my newfound love of writing – or, the icing if you will. So yeah, it’ll never be a cake … but it’s not all crap.
And now that my condition has greatly improved, my identity has thankfully shifted once again to only ‘partially disabled’.
Like a lizard, I am regenerating. I am not yet confident in my new identity; after all, it does keep changing. But, I’ll figure things out. The point is, I’m growing something new in the big black void that Chronic Illness left behind.
And if Chronic Illness comes for my identity again? I will keep channelling my inner lizard.