In case you haven’t met them yet, I thought I’d take a moment to introduce you to the evil stepsisters of chronic illness!
She’s the one that interrupts your thoughts. When you’re mid-sentence she’s going to slide into the conversation and make you draw a blank. While focused on a task she’s going to jump in and grab your train of thought and run away with it. We aren’t positive where she comes from. She may be a result of pain – you know, it’s hard to focus on a conversation if someone is stabbing you in the thigh with a knife. Or maybe she comes around after a few of the other girls (depression and fatigue) have been visiting for a while.
Oh, Fiona. I think I dislike her most of all. Before getting out of bed in the morning she’s there, grabbing your energy supply and running off like a toddler. She jumps up for a piggy-back ride so as you walk through the day you’re carrying her weight as well. Each step twice as difficult as when you were healthy. By lunch time the added weight has you feeling like a zombie, dragging along as you walk. Sometimes she fastens anchors to your arms and legs and leaves you immobile. Then the catch 22 begins: too tired to move = not being able to move = stopping you from exercising your muscles which would give you more energy. She often leaves you with a sore throat, headache or other illness that comes back time and time again. A horrible child that Fiona is!
As a child, we were scared of the boogie man living under our bed. Well, that’s Isabelle. She runs in and hides before you get under the covers with the sheer goal of keeping you awake all night. She’s very aware of your sleep cycle – all 5 stages and the 90 minutes it takes to get you to a restorative sleep. While you’re in stage one your muscles and brain are still active. In stage two your muscles are supposed to relax and only your brain keeps going. That’s when she lets all the bed bugs loose to crawl up and down your legs so that you can’t stay still. Once stage three hits, you should be experiencing gentle waves taking you deeper into sleep. But she’s there. Whispering in your ear to keep your mind active and tapping on your arms and legs to keep your muscles alert. Stage five is where you can dream, your body can repair tissue and illness damage, and your body releases serotonin to decrease pain – but she won’t let you linger there long. She gets vicious and starts to punch you in the arm and talk out loud until she has you fully awake. She’s a mean girl!
She’s the potty talker of the group. Test after test will prove there is nothing wrong with your intestinal tract. She, however, sits with her voodoo doll made in your likeness and squeezes your stomach to cause you pain. She will constipate you one day and make you run like the wind to the bathroom the next. She keeps you bloated and irritated. You don’t tend to talk about her much – we like to keep her hidden from everyone we know.
She’s always there. Sometimes in the background. Sometimes making a grand appearance. She will whisper stories in your ear of the life you once lived and list all the things you’re missing out on. Her happiest days are when she can get you to stay in bed and talk about gloom and doom. She’ll try to convince you that seeing life through her eyes isn’t looking through a fog of depression – it’s actually lifting the fog and seeing things clearly. She’s absolutely wrong! If you try to tell her of all the things you can still do to have a happy, productive life, she’ll go nuts and scream at the top of her lungs. Reminding you of all the would-haves/could-haves/should-haves of a healthy life gone sour.
Three is never a crowd with Diana. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t seem to enjoy the time when it’s just the two of you. She’ll dig her heels into the ground or grab onto the chair for all she’s worth until you’re forced to ask someone to come and help you. She weighs down your limbs and sucks your energy. It gives her great pleasure to see you uncomfortable and sad as you watch people do jobs for you that you’d much rather do for yourself.
She’s the bully of the group. You’ll often find her introducing you to Dana Depression but even on her own, she’s a mighty foe. She will taunt you every time you have to say no to a request or cancel an appointment. She walks around the house and picks up every item out of place and tells you to get your act together. She thrives on Pinterest images of perfection and is determined you are not living up to your full potential. Her greatest pleasure is comparing you to others that she feels are much better moms/wives/sisters/friends.
There it is friends! There are a few other cousins in the bunch, but these seven tend to stand out above the rest! The hardest job is keeping them in control!