I had a fairly good childhood. I was bullied a bit in elementary school, but as far as bullying goes it was pretty mild. In high school I became sort of a floater. I wasn’t really popular. I didn’t get invited to the “cool” parties and the in- crowd didn’t spend much time noticing I was alive. However, I wasn’t really unpopular or “weird” either. I mean I was weird, totally weird, but bullying wasn’t a huge issue in my school and I wasn’t that kind of weird. I had groups of friends from a few different cliques, but I never really felt like I fit in 100% to any of them. Although I was generally liked, I felt a bit like an outsider a lot of the time. This feeling intensified as I struggled with depression and grief. When I developed asthma I inched a bit further outside of that “normal” range. I thought I understood what it meant to be the one that didn’t fit in. That was until I moved to Mexico. Now fitting in has taken on a whole new meaning.
When I was depressed I lost friends. Not because they stopped liking me, but because they didn’t know what to do or say. I made them uncomfortable and people don’t like feeling uncomfortable. But why didn’t they know what to say? They knew what depression was and they were all very aware of what triggered it. I know some of them just didn’t want to deal with it, but others disappeared slowly. These were the friends who wanted to be there for me, but didn’t know how to be. There is a growing trend in our society to judge people for the words they use. It’s hard to express your opinion or even think out loud without being labeled something- fat shamer, anti-Semitic, heartless, or just plain bitch. Where did the discussion go? How can we learn and grow and be there for each other if we’re all afraid to open our mouths lest we accidentally insult someone?
One thing I really don’t like about asthma is nighttime symptoms. I’m pretty lucky that my asthma is not primarily active at night, but sometimes it keeps me up.
One of the scariest feelings in the world is waking up gasping for air. It usually starts with a dream in which I can’t breathe and then I wake up having an attack. After a few of these episodes I started to be extra careful about making sure I’m symptom free before I go to bed.
Sometimes I still end up awake in the middle of the night waiting to feel better. It’s incredibly lonely. It’s times like this where the isolation of chronic illness really hits me. With my partner lying next to me, and all my friends asleep, I feel very alone.
I don’t think most people realise that having a chronic illness isn’t convenient. It doesn’t subside when you need to sleep, or on your vacation, or when that report is due. It wouldn’t be so maddening if you could turn it off for an hour. It’s kind of like living with a perpetual infant (without the babysitter).
All I can do is make sure I’m stable before I go to bed and keep my reruns of “Friends” close at hand. For now, I’m going to try and get some sleep.