**I read Dear Chronic Illness last year and felt such a kinship with everyone who contributed and shared their experiences and feelings in that amazing book. I’ll leave a little link to my review here incase you missed it but I also wanted to do my own letter. I wrote this last year but completely chickened out on publishing so thought with it being M.E awareness week I’d post it now.
It’s been 10 years – did you realise that?
10 years that you have stolen. You came out of nowhere: completely unexpected. Like with so many others you started small, the flu or an infection but five sets of antibiotics later you still lingered. Bigger and worse than ever before. Thats when the tests were done and we found you – M.E/CFS. What even is that? I thought. I heard my mom ask What can we do?, to which the scariest reply came… Nothing. There’s no cure. Everything went into slow motion and all I remember is seeing my mom crumble as my nana lent over to support her. The doctor took that moment to tell me the only thing that will get you through this will be your friends. And that was it. How we became stuck with each other.
I walked into that doctor’s office a carefree, determined, and slightly confused girl and came out numb and in shock. I was convinced they had something wrong. Surely they had the test results or the medical files mixed up with someone else. But no, low and behold there was no mistake. Nor was it a horrific nightmare which I desperately wanted to wake from. No, it was you. You, M.E and me – Jam. We were now forged together.
You have taken me down some roads and alleyways I wish never to return and at times you have broken me heart and soul. But you have never broken my spirit. True it may have grown weak at times but you have never, and will never, break it. You see, I grew holding onto an important idea of my grandfather’s. He always said, and still says, that when you give up on life, life gives up on you and you may as well hop into your grave now. With this in mind, I have always believed that if I mentally gave up on myself it would be the end so I always worked towards something. I set myself targets and learnt through trial and error what this broken body was capable of. Every so often I’d go beyond those boundaries and you would knock me down, harder then ever before. I’d stare at the ceiling, wincing in pain. You’ve caused a lot of that over the years – pain, exhaustion, depression, and then all the complications too.
I think a lot people are slowly beaten down by you but still they hold onto some hidden hope and faith that one day you’ll pack up and leave as quickly as you came. I’m not one of those people. Another thing you neglected to consider when picking me as your next ‘victim’ is that I’m not a child of god but a child of science: brought into this world by the marvel of IVF. As anyone familiar with IVF knows, you have to be patient, persevere and have courage in the process regardless how trying the situation may be. And those traits are firm in the foundation of who I am. I have the courage of my mother and, dare I say, the stubbornness of my biological father. I fought my way into this world and because of you I will continue to fight my way through it.
M.e. you have turned my world upside down from the get go. You tore apart the person I was and burnt the remains to the ground. But you also gave me the nobility to rise from those ashes and, through many hardships, forge my way to the person I am meant to be. These past 10 years have been a voyage into the great unknown and at times you have been my only companion. You have seen me go from a naive young girl to a headstrong young woman and despite the bad bits you still bring – I rather like the person I’m becoming.
I wholeheartedly thank you and, regardless of what you may bring from here on out, I’m glad our paths crossed,