For All The Sick Kids Who Don’t Deserve To Be Sick
Stumbling into teenhood, you have expectations. Parties, friends, high school. You expect first dates and first loves. There’s also those expectations you carry on your developing shoulders from the people around you, adults and peers alike.
If you’re anything like me, you were excited and terrified at the same time. You felt like you were walking through the doors of your independence when you were halted by the cruelest of punishments; Chronic illness.
I was 11 years old, I played basketball and loved to draw. I noticed my joints started to hurt, especially in my knees and shoulders. Then my sternum started to ache with any slightly erratic movement. Doctors stuck needles in me, taking my blood and forcibly ripping my fear of needles from my young mind. Test after test, they found no abnormalities. I was given instructions to take it easy and pop ibuprofen tablets. No one believed me when I complained of my pain, which isolated me even more.
As I dipped my toes into the waters of puberty, I was also thrust into a deep depression and serious bouts of anxiety that left me fearing for my life, but wanting to end it all together. I was dismissed as hormonal. I struggled and hurt and fought for five hard years before going on medication.
Now, six years later, I’m still in and out of doctor’s offices. I still scream into my pillows in frustration when I have to miss a party because I’m too sick. I weep on my boyfriend’s shoulders when the pain is too much to bear. My hips give out easily, I lose my balance and my shoulder muscles are constantly tense. My joints ache with any weather change. It seems like my illness has consumed my life and my experience of being a teen.
I know there’s other kids out there like me, kids that have had to drop out of school or start using mobility assistant devices despite the judgement from their peers and, yes, their parents. I want to reach out to you, whether your illness is physical, mental, or both. None of us deserve to feel as invisible as our illness. None of us deserve the isolation. Having the body of a forty-year-old at seventeen is challenging, but it’s made me brave, as it has every other kid in my position.
Remember: It’s hard. It’s so hard, and so unfair. But one day it’ll be okay. One day we will find a way to ease our pain and carry on for the rest of our hopefully long, prosperous lives.
A fellow chronically ill kid