It’s normal to feel discouraged and defeated sometimes. That’s when you need to hold fast to the reasons you still have to go on.
I planned on taking some time off work during the summer to enjoy with my children, but things didn’t go as I had hoped. I ended up struggling with worsening symptoms and pain from my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia. For months, I had many pity parties and times when I wanted to give up. But although these feelings tempted me to surrender nearly every day, I kept hearing a voice saying, “Today is not the day. Move on.”
I don’t know where that voice came from. It sounded like my own voice, but it seemed wiser and stronger than I was in those very difficult moments. Most days I heeded it, but there were too many days when I didn’t: I called off work, crawled back in bed, and convinced myself that tomorrow I’d listen to the demanding—yet encouraging—voice.
Why not give up?
It has been eight years since I was diagnosed with RA and fibromyalgia, and a lot has happened in my world. The majority of it I am thankful for: my amazing, healthy, and happy children, a beautiful home, a job I love, and so many blessings among all the chaos that chronic illness has brought.
Still, there are these two chronic, unrelenting, and debilitating diseases. They invade nearly every aspect of my existence: home life, work life, and social life. There is pain—joint pain, muscle pain, nerve pain, and head pain. And incapacitating fatigue. And so many more symptoms, from dry eyes to digestive issues.
Of course I sometimes want to give up. Why not give up? These illnesses are, perhaps, the worst things that have happened to me. They have changed my life forever. Every minute of every single day is touched by chronic illness and every person in my life is somehow affected. Chronic illness interferes with my plans—present and future. It determines my diet, my ability to exercise, and how much rest I need. Sadly, RA and fibromyalgia leave me with little control over my body, and sometimes even my life.
There are plenty of days when all this is too much to bear. Times when I am weary from trying to make it all work, from trying to let go of what I cannot control, and from just trying to be okay with this unfair experience.
My world can sometimes feel terribly small and my problems seem as big as mountains. But I have learned that my worries can only be as big as the amount of space I allow them to take up in my mind, heart, and soul.
Where is the theoretical good in this experience? Is it even possible to see any? Believe me, on days when I feel like giving up, finding acceptable answers is nearly impossible. And it takes everything I’ve got to not give in and let these diseases walk all over me.