When a person has a chronic illness, whether it is a physical medical condition or a mental illness, it affects that person. It dominates their life, what they do and their ability to function.
Most people interact with other people, as socialization is a key element to our lives. Through socialization we interact with others, usually daily. Therefore, our afflictions influence others in some capacity.
My mother, through no fault of her own, suffers from numerous chronic health conditions. But, every day, she pressed on, caring after myself, my two brothers, the household, our pets and my stepfather. Depending on the severity of her pain and her discomfort, some days she would be able to accomplish more than others. As children and teens, we did assist with the household chores and responsibilities, but she held down the fort. She was a warrior and still is. (http://janethartlove.com/blog/)
It was incredibly difficult to watch a person you love, live in pain and be powerless. To not understand why your mother was in such agony, to wonder why she had the disabilities that she did, and to contemplate why God let this happen to her.
I share the story about my mom as a preface that I know what it is like to have a family member with a chronic illness. However, being a person with chronic illness, I am now on the other side of the fence and am seeing things from a unique perspective.
Now on the other side of the fence, I am aware that my family has been subjected to the pit of despair I fell into last summer when for months I was a sloth and could not stop crying. They have entertained my mania when I am engaging and playful, animated and exuberant. And unfortunately, they have been subject to years of my irritability and rage.
Over the last few weeks it has become incredibly clear to me that everything I do, impacts my family. If I choose to adjust my medication because let’s say I don’t like the weight gain side effect, then I am risking a setback, that could impact our family. Every time I get frustrated at having a disorder that is not within my control, I must force myself to take a step back and reflect on how this is influencing my family? How does it feel for my spouse to see me suffering and not to be able to do anything to fix it? What does my son think when he comes home from school and sees me lying on the couch sacked out? Does it hurt his heart to know that he can’t do anything to help ease my depression? And for my girl, she may enjoy the times when I am manic and we are having fun shopping and playing dress up, but does she wonder when my mood will suddenly change? And my mom, she’s 2000 miles away and she receives crying phone calls and there’s literally nothing that she can do. She can’t even hold me while I sob.
Every day we are fighting our battles, but let us not forget that we are not alone. Our families and our friends are fighting too. What we are going through is influencing them too. We need to show them some extra love. We need to understand that they have a limit to what they can handle, and at a certain point, they are going to need a time out to decompress, because they can only handle so much.
This post is not so funny, because the havoc that chronic illness throws onto families isn’t funny. It is hard for me to find humor in the cold, hard truths of what my illness has done and is doing to my family. I am incredibly thankful everyday for my family. I could not make it through the day without them. They are my moon and my stars, the three different types of cheese to my gluten free macaroni. I stick to my medication regime and therapy not just for me, but for them, because I love them and my wellness is not only a gift to me, but a gift to them.
Take a minute to thank your family for being there for you. They have a challenging job, but they do it because they love you, and you are worth it.
#bipolar #depression #anxiety #chronicillness #family #chronicpain #mentalillness #stepparenting