I see her.
She is sitting beside me in a kids play area, noticeably distracted and alone though surrounded.
I hear her.
Asking her mom/friend/or practitioner if she felt this way at her age, whilst counting the hours before bedtime + shaming herself for not being able to overcome.
I feel her.
The woman in the grocery aisle engulfed with anxiety, a clouded mind, aching body, and weary soul marching to the unanswered question “What is wrong with me?”
I know her.
Pondering all the things she will or would do if she just felt better, the list grows longer and her will to strive, shorter. Sadly, she’s loosing hope.
As if pulled by invisible magnets between us, I’ve met her in common and unexpected places. She’s been lovingly referred to me through a friend or family member to find counsel or simply have someone to share her story. She’s been at my door about to leave as I shared mine, and she’s graced my living room questioning if her symptoms were real or “all in her head,” because that’s what she was told.
I know it all too well. It’s my story in a nutshell. Essentially, she has been me, and I have been her. We see, hear, feel and know each other through our experiences and inner turmoil, because chronic pain and suffering has a specific language understood by those who have been made to listen, and I can see and hear her coming from miles away. Thus, HIVEhealth is a part of HIVEhome, though I tried to convince myself otherwise, until I continued to meet - her.
I am not so far removed (truly, I am not) to forget what it was like to carry shame daily, listen to the lies of my own or other’s bad advice, or blame myself for every anxiety, downfall, or shortcoming which my symptoms seemed to enunciate every-single-day. To top it off, simple things like creating a list, or making small decisions, seemed mammoth conundrums.
Add chronic pain, fatigue, bowel discomfort, to put it mildly, thyroid + adrenal failure, and a host of questionable, seemingly inexplicable health issues… Symptoms of the unanswered question - the great unknown yet with a great need to be known. I touch on this topic in my first post “Let the Sunshine In,” discussing the need and necessity to be known, and while this is similar, it’s not necessarily the same.
What is difficult about aspects of chronic illness, disease, and/or pain is that these issues or symptoms are often not acknowledged or noticed by the very one who is suffering. It’s not that she is unaware she is in pain or simply surviving her days, nor is she willfully trying to hide, though she may feel hidden at times. It’s that the process of even realizing she must ask, “What is wrong with me?” can be a journey in itself.
In essence, the realization there is a need beyond self-adjustment has yet to take place. If the question has been asked, it very likely stems from personal judgement rather than understanding something is truly wrong and that chronic pain and/or autoimmune issues are not normal, at least they shouldn’t be.
However, this story is on the rise. She is increasingly younger each year with debilitating diagnosis and unanswered questions. Her medical bills are in the thousands, and her anxiety not quieted with confusing lab work, false negatives, new drugs, or "mental health awareness days." In other words, she is not only in our midst, but she is here and may not know it. It’s possible she is you, and we are in this together whether you have struggled with autoimmune, chronic disease, pain, fatigue, or not. She is now we. Welcome to HIVEhealth.