Today I’ve Been Sick For 9 Years – A Deeply Personal Post
by Corrina Thurston
Today I’ve been sick for 9 years.
It’s not an anniversary I thought I’d ever have. It’s not something you ever expect to say.
I’ve been sick for 9 years. That’s 1/3rd of my life. It’s my entire adulthood.
It’s been 9 years since I’ve had a day without a headache.
It’s been 9 years since I had a good night’s sleep.
It’s been 9 years since I touched a basketball, tennis racket, or hiking shoes.
It’s been 9 years since I felt like a whole person.
It’s been a terrible, excruciatingly painful, depressing, anxiety-ridden roller coaster, but I refuse to let it define me or stop me from moving forward.
That 9 years hasn’t been filled with just illness.
It’s been 9 years since I became chronically ill….
But it’s been 8 years since I started learning to adapt, to focus on the good.
It’s been 7 years since I picked up a pencil and realized I could draw, even while mostly bedridden and with severe chronic pain.
It’s been 6 years since I FULLY realized how incredibly lucky I am to have been born into my family, with the most supportive and amazing people by my side, no matter what happens, even when doctors didn’t believe me.
It’s been 5 years since I gave my first speech and realized I could inspire other people.
It’s been almost 4 years since I was finally diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, bartonella, hashimoto’s thyroiditis, adrenal malfunctions, low immune system, endometriosis, IBS, and more and FINALLY found a doctor who could help me instead of laughing at me or shaking their head.
It’s been 3 years since I met the man I love and plan to marry.
It’s been 2 years since I began calling myself an Artist and registered my art as a business, knowing this is what I want to do.
It’s been 1 year since I felt like maybe I can do this. Since I started writing again and recently published a book that is inspiring other artists and so far has only 5-star reviews. Since I connected with a number of other artists and community members and leaders. Since I started getting requests for work, articles, teaching, public appearances, speeches, exhibits and more. Since I started finding my place again.
What it means for me now.
I’m not healthy. I’m not able to do a lot of the things I wish I could. But I’m doing everything I CAN, and I’m proud of that.
There are times when my life has been barely worth living. And there are still times, like today, where I sit down in the shower and cry (9-year sickness anniversaries will do that to you).
But I have a purpose here. I have dreams I know can come true. I’ve made amazing connections with people, and big strides in my health.
I may not be able to function 100% all the time, and I may get frustrated with my circumstances, but I’m still a leader. I’m still a changemaker in my community, an advocate, an entrepreneur, an author, a consultant, a conservationist, a life-long learner, and a lover of all things kind and beautiful. My illness doesn’t define me, it just means I’ve had to learn to adapt.
I’m a better person because of these last 9 years, and I finally feel like I’m on the right path, a path that can make a difference. I can now focus on helping other artists with my books, articles, speeches, and consulting. I can use my artwork to raise awareness and donate to help with conservation efforts and animal rights. I can spend time and money helping organizations and non-profits I believe in, I can advocate for human rights, and do whatever I can to make this world a better place.
And I can focus on myself when I need to without feeling guilty. It’s okay, and necessary, to take breaks. It’s okay to focus on my health as a number 1 priority. It’s okay when sometimes I have to take my time or say no.
Many people with chronic illnesses feel extraordinarily guilty. I did. And I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to. There’s nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. It’s not your fault. You are worthy, you are important, and you are loved.