I wouldn't say I've been handling being sick well. I certainly wouldn't call myself strong. I spend a lot of time crying and feeling bad for myself, but even more so I feel bad for my family.
Growing up my parents were very into "pulling yourself up by the bootstraps." No effort I could show was good enough for them. I put all my energy into 1) staying alive and 2) going to school and getting good grades. When I was too exhausted to clean my room, or go outside, or function in just about any other way, they would be mad at me. Part of me understands where they were coming from. They don't know how emotionally and physically exhausting it is to fight bipolar disorder. They couldn't see that I had autoimmune hypothyroidism, or that my digestive system was starting to fail. My disabilities were all on the inside, and therefore they didn't view them as real.
My parents, like most other people in the world, are able to wake up with a full tank of gas. Mine never registers past a quarter tank. I can say this with certainty having lived through phases (sadly short lived) where I've had normal-person energy. These days my tank feels even emptier. I continue to struggle with my mental health, and my physical health is worse than ever. Add in taking care of a highly, highly energetic three year old and I'm running on fumes constantly. I feel like there's nothing inside of me.
And yet I have never been able to shake the guilt that my parents instilled in me that I can always do better than my best. Despite the fact that I know it's literally impossible, it's still a huge source of guilt and grief for me. Why can't I just suck it up and get shit done anyway? My mom raised three kids and always kept a clean house and cooked dinner every night. She even worked a little bit! Why can't I do the same thing- especially since I have a strong desire to do so.
I don't like living like this. I don't like feeling sick and tired all the time. I don't like living in a dirty house, or not being able to cook for my husband who works all day. I don't like crying myself to sleep every night.
So what do I do? I do what I can. I take medications every day that help me in one way and hurt me in two. I spend more time with doctors than I do with my friends in order to figure out what's wrong and how, and if, it can be fixed. I go through scary, invasive surgeries that don't come with any positive guarantees. I wake up with R and I feed her and make sure she's happy and going to the places where she needs to go. Even when I'd rather be in bed or next to a toilet- which is all the time.
Is this good enough for me? Of course not. I absolutely believe that my family would be better off without me. N deserves a better wife and R deserves a better mother. I want to be those people but some days (ok, most days) I don't feel like I'll ever be able to be. I exist in a spiral of shame and sickness that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to pull out of.
Sometimes R sees me when I'm crying. I don't like to show pain or sadness in front of her, but sometimes it's unavoidable. She's a very empathetic child and she'll hug me and wipe away my tears. She'll tell me that everything is going to be ok, even when I feel like it's not. But this is why I keep going. Because I have her. And I have N. And I have the rest of my family, and some amazingly supportive friends. Making the choice to go on isn't always easy, but I know it's the only choice I have.
To quote one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies:
"I know it hurts. That's life. If nothing else, it's life. It's real and sometimes it fuckin' hurts, but it's sort of all we have."
And right now, this is what I have.