I've been thinking about this a lot lately, about my life, my contribution, the burden my chronic illness has on my loved ones. I know I'm not the only person suffering from a chronic condition that feels this way but since it's been on my mind, I thought I'd discuss it.
Of course my partner and family constantly reiterate how I'm not a burden, how they love me, how they want to help, but it doesn't stop me from thinking how much easier their lives would be if they didn't have to fight my battles too. Surely when they were growing up their ultimate goal was not to spend hours in various hospitals or put shoes on their 28 year old daughter/sister/girlfriend. How could it be?
It's not even the physical burden, it's emotional and mental. I live three hours from my Mum and when I call her and I'm in pain, I can hear the concern in her voice; she'd have me living next door to her if it was possible. My boyfriend wouldn't have to worry that I'll fall when he pops to the shop, or I'll dislocate when he's gone to visit friends. I can see the agony they feel watching me deal with chronic pain; it's heartbreaking for them watching me suffer. I'm a constant source of anxiety for my loved ones. I'm stressful, I'm time-consuming, I'm an inconvenience.
I sometimes get the impression people think that I'm ruining my boyfriend's life because everything revolves around me; where we go, what time we leave, if there's somewhere comfortable I can sit. Why does he put up with me? Why does he look after me? Why take on the extra pressure of a disabled girlfriend? They'll never have a normal life!
But it all comes back to love, as cheesy as it sounds, it does. Yes, my boyfriend and I have a different lifestyle to a lot of other people our age but it works for us. Yes, I'm in a wheelchair and he does a lot of things for me but if the tables were turned I'd do it for him. I don't lock him in the house and demand he take care of me, we both accept that this is our relationship and he is fully committed to me and my needs, as I am him. It may be strange to outsiders but it works for us and at the end of the day, he loves me for ME, not my disability. I'm hilarious and adorable, with or without the array of illnesses. You can't help who you fall for, and who ruled that disabled people had to be in a relationship with another disabled person?
As for my family, they'd move mountains if I needed them to, and I would for them; it's what you do when you love someone. So, although I sometimes feel like I'm dragging everyone down and ruining their lives because of my conditions, I know if anything happened to any of them, I'd drop everything and support them too. I guess my mental health doesn't aid in my paranoia as I fixate on the negatives, but I'm not holding a gun to anyone's head, if they didn't want to be a part of it, they could quite easily jump ship.
It's a difficult thing to overcome and I guess I'll always go through phases of feeling like a burden, but as long as I don't dwell there too long, it'll be okay.
I needed to write this as much for myself as for my readers; to remind myself that as long as the people in my circle want to be there, I'm not problem for them. We do things differently, no family dynamic is the same and although I need a little extra attention (and let's face it, I am an attention seeker), I'm not a burden.
Do you ever feel this way? How do you overcome these feelings?