By Juliana Philippa Kerrest in The Mighty.
Something I greatly struggle with are the emotional ups and downs that come with dealing with a chronic illness. I have three chronic conditions that have affected me to varying degrees throughout my life: psychological, neurological, and autoimmune. Most of the time, I handle it relatively well; I am able to stay positive and appreciate all the things that go right in my life and that I have been gifted with. These illnesses have also enabled me to value and treasure the good days all the more. Sometimes though, my resilience fails me, and the smallest thing can send me over the edge, like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
This tends to surprise people, because I apparently project a very different picture. I do speaking engagements in which I share my experiences with mental illness, and I am often told after my presentations that I am “brave” and have such a positive attitude. Every single time that happens, I smile, say thank you — and feel like a complete and utter fraud. Because although I share some of my worst times with the audience, I am also there to deliver a message of hope and inspiration, which is of course the note that I end on. Don’t misunderstand — the message I deliver is one I strongly believe in, but people inevitably get the impression that all is well with me now, I am at peace with my situation, and I am only ever courageous in the face of it. The reality is far different; I am not invincible, and sometimes I reach a breaking point and feel like railing at the world.
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