We each go through days when we tell ourselves that we are not “strong” enough.
Because society categorises us as not being “strong” enough.
As we go through our journey, we are subconsciously being attacked about our lack of strength; in ways that most of you might not even realise.
We watch television and are inundated with Gym Advertisements and the physical STRENGTH that each person possesses. Because exercise equals physical strength, and everyone automatically assumes that you are ill because you are not exercising, therefore you are not STRONG.
We use social media as self-promotion, and for product-promotion.
Here’s a line that many of you will know of, the dreaded “take this and you will feel STRONGER/better”
We post photos and videos of moments that highlight our STRENGTH and happiness.
We leave Specialist’s offices feeling absolutely defeated after they use the cliché line “you just have to be STRONGER”, and one that was used on me last night “you have the STRENGTH to overcome this”.
We go home and we hear this popular line of encouragement used by our loved ones in an attempt to make us “better”. They have not experienced what we have, so they associate strength with getting better and tell us to be STRONGER. That is really their way of saying “I just wish you were better”, and that somehow if we try harder we can overcome our medical challenges.
We buy magazines, with covers of STRONG, healthy people.
Strength is marketed.
We leave Doctor’s offices being surrounded by people suffering from the common cold virus, and we subconsciously tell ourselves that we wish we just had a common cold because then we’d be STRONG enough to fight it, beat it.
And so, we go through each of our days telling ourselves that we are strong enough because of the comparison to others.
We go to bed wondering what else we could have done in an attempt to feel “better”, “stronger”.
We question ourselves; and please don’t lie, because if I can admit to doing it then I know you have too. We will sit in a slump, questioning our own body and what we have to do in order to gain this so-called-strength that everyone speaks of. We will cry, we will scream; wishing for our course of events to be different.
We pressure ourselves, because we feel pressured.
Example of Chronically Ill Brain:
Who do I speak to? Hello? Tell me.
Where do I obtain such strength to overcome my illness?
What does it mean to be strong?
Am I not strong enough?
Do I have to exercise, or exercise harder?
Do I have to eat healthier, or attend that party that I fear I will be too sick to make it for?
Do I have to gain muscle, or throw myself into a job?
Do I have to work five days a week instead of two?
Do I have to drive to that appointment, even though I feel too ill?
Do I have to step out of my wheelchair, or not feel depressed?
Strength, strength, strength.
Why am I not strong enough to beat this?
I am here to tell you that,
I know the STRENGTH that it took to get out of bed this morning.
I know how many times you hit your alarm because your body ached.
I know the STRENGTH it took to feed your children and nappychange them this morning, and the effort it took you to have a shower this morning.
I know the STRENGTH you had when you dragged yourself to that appointment, and used all of your energy chatting to your Doctor about progress or decline.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to try and exercise today, even if that means walking to the mailbox and back.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to tell do, or say, something thoughtful to your partner, because you feared they would not know how much you were thankful for their support.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to pick yourself up off the floor after crying what felt like an ocean.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to try and swallow each tablet, multiple times a day.
I know the STRENGTH that it took to half-smile, or to laugh.
So, when you see or hear the term STRENGTH, you are to stop for a minute and take a deep breath in.
Count to five (that takes strength too).
And then I want you to tell yourself, and whoever/whatever is in front of you questioning your strength, this:
In this moment,
I am strong enough,
to make it through the next (moment).
In this moment, YOU are STRONG ENOUGH, to make it through the next moment.
That’s all you need to know. You don’t need to know how; just know that you WILL.
You may not see this strength that you possess, but it is there and I promise you it will be pulling you through the roughest of nights, the toughest of moments.
You go to sleep begging for a way out, and you wake up wondering how you made it through the night before; there it is, your strength.
You probably don’t even know that you have it, but it’s there.
I know it is, because somewhere within me, it’s there too and I have it to thank for keeping me here this long.
Strength isn’t about pushing your body to do the unthinkable, so you then have to suffer the repercussions afterwards, and it is most certainly not about beating our diseases. We can push ourselves to achieve more, but if we fail it does not mean we are not strong.
How lovely it would be to think of overcoming our illness, and maybe some of us will, but most of us can’t. We are tied to each other (illness and you, illness and me).
Sure, it would be lovely to push ourselves to achieve more.
There are things that our illness stops us from doing, and then there are things we fear doing because of our illness, but that does not mean that we are not strong enough.
It’s all well and good for people to push us to be stronger, to try harder; because most of them think that we sit at home doing nothing all day, and then the rest of them have our best intentions at heart. They just want us to be better, and there is nothing wrong with that.
But don’t let them question your strength.
Don’t let them question YOUR efforts, because I know.
I know exactly what it feels like.
I know exactly how hard you are trying.
We might not be physically strong, we might not even be mentally strong at times, and most of us will not be able to overcome our illnesses,
BUT we possess a rare type of strength that others don’t have –
Chronic Illness Strength,
and let me be the first to tell you that this type of strength is stronger than physical and mental combined.
In this moment, I am strong enough, to make it through the next.