Something I’ve noticed as I navigate living with chronic illness and connecting with others who are on the same path, nobody really speaks about the guilt that comes with chronic illness. I know in my own life I certainly have felt guilty for being sick and not being able to do the things I used to be able to do with and for myself and my family. My chronic illness is debilitating, which means there are times when I have to say “No” to things. I need help with day to day things and I am unable to do things like make dinner without help, clean the house, help my daughter with her homework, and the most obvious thing I can no longer do is work.
Tbe pain and the fatigue that comes along with chronic illness is so intense that it completely wipes me out. The thing that has been really causing me to feel guilty is cancelling plans. Calling or texting a family member or friend to say “I can’t make it” causes me to feel like I’m letting someone down…like a failure and a disappointment. I know my family/friends understand but that doesn’t stop the negative feelings from creeping in. To take it a step further, when it comes to my husband I feel like a burden. I count on my husband for just about everything and I can’t imagine the amount of pressure that places on him. He takes me to most of my doctor appointments, does the grocery shopping, takes our daughter to school and picks her up, and everything in between. I step in and help out when I can, but it wipes me out completely. Driving my daughter to school and back home takes all the energy and strength I have.
Whenever I start to feel guilty and down about my situation I have noticed that I tend to isolate myself. I get in my bed, roll up in a ball, and try my best to block out all the things I can no longer do. I leave text messages unread, don’t answer phone calls, and do not want to go anywhere. I am fully content and ok with being alone in my bedroom thinking about all the things I wish I could do. The guilt is so overwhelming at times…it oftentimes takes my breath away. It’s hard to explain, though I feel some of you know exactly what I mean as you’ve been through it yourself. Chronic illness is not fun nor is it vacation or cake walk. It’s hard, with twists and turns along the way. Isolation, I feel, is ok in moderation as it allows for time to collect and reflect on things. It’s important to allow family and friends in so you don’t stay in that space for long periods of time as that would be unhealthy and could be harmful to your mental health. The guilt does not last for too long but the sadness that comes along with the guilt can linger. It’s always in the back of my mind. It can sometimes lead to anxiety as well. What I mean by that is I become anxious when someone asks to spend time with me for fear that I may need to cancel because of my illness. You have know idea what goes on inside when a friend of mine wants to meet up for coffee or lunch. I will say yes hoping I will feel well enough on the day of.
It’s important for me to remember that my life will not always be like this and I have a lot of people in my life who love me and understand my situation. My family and close friends are always ok whenever I need to cancel or whenever I need to say “No”. They never hold things against me, even when I have to cancel the day of. I need to push through the guilt I feel and focus on getting better…there’s no reason for me to feel guilty. This is a season in my life where I feel God working on me in order to get me closer to becoming the person He created me to be. Chronic illness is not my identity and it is not who I am. The enemy is working overtime to get me to focus on my illnesses and all the things I can’t do and all the things I am missing out on, but the truth is my chronic condition is teaching me so many things about myself. I realize the following things about Windy:
- I am stronger than I thought
- I am resilient
- I enjoy my alone time
- I am fearless
- I am a warrior in the Spirit
- I am hopeful
- I am wise
Although this journey has been rough, I am thankful to God for all the things I am learning about myself. I know that I will have a beautiful testimony that I will be able to share with others about how faithful God has been to me and my family every step of the way. No guilt, no shame in Jesus’ name!
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Daniel 3:18 “And if not, He is still good! “
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