I’m super excited to be starting this blog and I’m glad to see you here. I’ve been going back and forth about how I want to begin because it’s such a weird thing to introduce yourself to the Internet. I’ve actually wanted to start this blog for a while, and I guess the best way to begin is to tell you why it’s taken me so long to start.
Unfortunately, I have to tell kind of a crummy story to do so…
About two years ago, I was finally starting to feel a little bit better after having been wheelchair bound and home bound for a long while (see What’s POTS?). My older sister had just moved home after completing her graduate degree (she is a rock star!) and had offered to take me to the library, as my current stash of things to keep me occupied was dwindling. When we got there, we parked in one of two empty handicapped spots, and I hung my permit from the rearview mirror. I gulped some Gatorade, took a deep breath, and got out of the car, psyching myself up to gather the energy it would take to get from the car to inside- a few hundred feet- and then to the counter where I could pick up the books I had on hold.
Two older men were standing in the parking lot, blocking the handicapped space next to us as they chatted. One had his dog with him, clearly out for a walk. When my sister and I got out of the car, the one with the dog said something I didn’t hear. I was too focused on getting from Point A to Point B. I did hear my sister say, “Yeah, well, looks can be deceiving,” but I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. I was too focused on the task at hand.
When we came out of the library all of 10 minutes later, me reveling in my success of having made it (!), one of the men had left, but the one with the dog remained, hovering around our car. I still didn’t know what was going on, but I could feel my sister tense, and we quickly got into the car and locked the doors.
That’s when I heard it- a loud thunk. The man slammed a plastic bag full of his dog’s poop at my sister’s driver side windshield like he was a handicapped-defending vigilante ninja and the poop bag was his nunchuck of choice.
…Whoa. That got a little heavy there.
Please enjoy this picture of a baby elephant playing in a field of ducklings while we all calm down a minute:
My sister cracked her window and in the most badass, don’t mess with me, big sister voice, yelled, “Hey! My sister has a serious medical condition that affects her heart and we have every right to park here!”
Now I knew what was going on.
It took a little while (thanks a lot, brain fog) but I figured it out.
We didn’t wait around to see what might happen next. My sister pulled out of the spot, and we sped away… right into a blockade closing the road, which meant we had to turn around and drive past the man again, at which point I made my measly contribution of giving him the finger.
What does this all have to do with me starting a blog, you wonder?
Here’s the thing. I’m worried that the Internet is that man with the dog, just waiting to throw a steaming bag of poop at me (because have you seen yourself lately, Internet? I would not put it past you). I’ve been too afraid to put myself out there, because I don’t want the Internet to stand around judging me, telling me I’m not sick “enough” or somehow don’t know “enough” about chronic illness to justify me having a spot in its parking lot.
So what changed?
First, I got tired.
I am tired of people like that man wielding power over me (full disclosure: I cried on the way home that day. Who wouldn’t?), deciding for me what my experience is or is not. It’s mine people. I get to decide. Back off!
Second, I got stronger.
Having awesome people in my corner, like my sister, has helped me to see that I can put myself out there because I know I’ve got good people backing me up. What’s even better is that as I have progressed on my path towards better health, I’m starting to see that I am finally capable of backing myself up, too.
So that’s it then, Internet, there’s my introduction. That’s the reason why I’ve been scared to start, but also the reason I’ve finally decided that I can’t continue to wait around for someone else to write the chronic illness blog I want to read.
Now, I’m looking forward to writing this blog, to sharing stories from my experience, and maybe the occasional guest post from a friend or two. I want you to know what it’s actually like to navigate the world as a 20-something with a chronic invisible illness. And I’m hoping that by sharing what it means to deal with chronic illness that I can finally find my way to some long overdue chronic wellness.
My illness may be invisible, but that doesn’t mean I have to be.
P.S. Thanks again, Sissy ❤