The Problem With the 'Chronic Illness Warrior' Mentality

Shelby Eckard
Young woman with arms in the air giving thumbs up.
Young woman with arms in the air giving thumbs up.

“You’re a Warrior.”

Am I?

war·ri·or /ˈwôrēər/

1. a brave or experienced soldier or fighter.

Sure, if being a warrior means most months I see my doctor(s) more than friends.

I wake up tired, most days. The kind of tired that reminds you living with this illness takes energy and every single thing takes more out of you than it should.

I require more time and effort to do things that I used to do with ease, and every ache and pain reminds me of that loss, of who I used to be.

I depend on medications, loved ones and far too many excuses to get me through the day.

I desperately try to stay positive, despite every negative and painful reminder my body gives me, letting me know I am not in control.

I smile and pretend I’m OK. I’m not OK.

I’m angry.

I’m so damn angry.

I feel like I’m trapped in a body that I’m constantly at war with, and I regret ever taking it for granted. What I wouldn’t give for more good days.

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Less doctors, more friends.

Less exhaustion, more living.

Less time hurting, more time living.

Because some days I’m barely doing that.

And sometimes I get so damn angry.

And I’m not going to tell anyone how to navigate their hurt, their grief, their loss of who they were. If being a warrior means fighting, I’m not always strong enough to do that. I’m not always brave.

I’m going to tell you this:

I think sometimes when you have been broken and hurting for so long, over and over, you become this master of hiding the pain because it’s exhausting, and you don’t want people to think you’re broken. But there comes a time when you hide it so well, that after so long people will assume you’ve stopped suffering.

But you haven’t — you’ve just moved your suffering into silence.

I’m done being silent.

Because living with an invisible illness makes you feel like you’re constantly having to prove your pain and struggle is real because no one can see it.

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But when you scream it, you’re seeking attention.

And when you hide it, you must not be suffering anymore, right?

It’s OK to be angry, and it’s OK to let others know when you’re hurting.

I’ve decided that my multiple chronic conditions won’t silence me anymore.

Read more stories like this on The Mighty:

The Struggles of Living With Both Chronic Illness and Anxiety

5 Things You Should Remember to Do in the New Year If You're Chronically Ill

3 Ways My Body Has Changed Due to Illness

To My Doctors Who Don't Understand My Chronic Illness