Reality's Pierce

Imagine a young adult in the prime of his/her life, feeling excited about growth and change. This person tackles responsibility day after day, pondering areas for growth, and taking strides to move forward in a desired direction. This path is tiring but wanted. The person begins to feel some changes in his/her body as s/he pushes on towards his/her goals, but s/he ignores these changes as s/he is so happy about what s/he is doing in life at the moment. Then one day s/he wakes up and s/he feels reality's pierce. The pierce that is experienced as pain...the pain of the chronic symptoms the person has temporarily forgotten, and the pain of acknowledging the reality that is living with chronic illness.

Oftentimes, certain chronic illnesses include periods of remission. Although this does not constitute cure or total health, during these periods of remission a person can feel healthy and "normal" or not "sick." The length of these periods of remission can differ from illness to illness, person to person, or even within the same person at different times. During periods of remission a person may feel a great high and a joy for feeling physically good again. After having felt ill for a while, feeling healthy feels incredible, and a person may want to seize the day and take the period as an opportunity to do many things that s/he cannot usually do. Sometimes engaging in activities that are usually off limits during these periods of remission can feel so natural, just like maybe before the person was diagnosed or maybe even like nothing else ever felt before. This feeling can be so encompassing that the reality that one still lives with the illness may be forgotten. The person may almost be deluded or may be unaware of tricking him/herself into thinking that the illness is gone for good and no longer a part of his/her life...that is until s/he feels reality's pierce.

Reality's pierce is experienced when that period of remission begins to end; when symptoms are suddenly felt again, and the reality of one's illness cannot be avoided. Reality's pierce can appear as just a natural cycle of remission ending or following the overpushing one's self that comes with the excessive excitement of feeling good. Once feeling the pierce, a person may experience a lot of sadness, anger, and frustration. The person may feel like they are receiving his/her diagnosis for the first time all over again. It can be very natural to cry or isolate oneself for a while until one adjusts yet again to the reality of living with a chronic condition. Sometimes the adjustment may be too difficult to make on one's own, and these are the times that it is important to ask for support from family, friends, others going through similar predicaments, and mental health professionals. It takes a lot of strength to cope with the cycle that can come with living with illness, and just as much strength to be able to ask for help with coping with it.

It may feel like you are a superperson when you are in remission tackling all the things you usually cannot do, but if you take a moment to really think about it, you may feel like the real super person is the person who gets through the painful illness ridden days, can share feelings about that pain, and who can ask for help when things get tough. Now that takes some serious emotional muscle! It is not easy to acknowledge and admit one's physical limitations. When reality pierces, it can feel effortless to get down on oneself...but in fact, that takes a lot of energy. Perhaps at times, that energy can be used to bring kindness to one's self and to ask for what you need from others. It is all a process--a winding journey. Good luck on your path.