Ambassador Blog Post: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
This beautiful and honest reflection is by Fight Like A Warrior Ambassador Natalie Boyer. You can follow her journey on Instagram @allthepotsibilities.
I have been living with POTS for a year now. A year may not seem like that long to people once you look back on life. Living with a chronic illness at times can even make 24 hours seem incredibly long. After my year anniversary, I’ve had time to reflect on everything I’ve endured in a whole year. The good, the bad, and the ugly. There are so many incredible moments, devastating moments, and overwhelming moments. Personally, I like to focus on the good, and they always say to save the best for last.
There are plenty of ugly moments in life. I still do have ugly days, and that’s just what comes with being chronically ill. Unpredictability and never knowing what you’re going to get. For me, ugly looks like spending a majority of my day with my feet in the air to help my blood circulation. It looks like having to say NO to anything involving me exerting energy. It looks like long anxious days of me feeling like I am “dying” and wondering when the uncertainty will end. It looks like having a ton of “skipped” heartbeats and feeling very short of breath.
I could go on and on about how I feel on an ugly day but I don’t think I would have enough space for it. I’ve learned that even though I am making progress and working hard, the ugly days are inescapable, and will always try to find you when you least expect it. As I've gotten more “used” to my ugly days, it taught me to recognize and tune into my body to prepare for my day to see what I can or can’t participate in. Nothing about having a chronic illness will never not be ugly.
Many aspects of my life have changed since I’ve been diagnosed. While I’m not in favor of focusing on “the bad” it’s still very important in my journey to allow me to grow. Ever since my diagnosis, I have developed pretty severe anxiety and at times a little depression. Getting used to living with a chronic illness can make anyone feel lonely and isolated within their own head.
In the beginning, I was very down about my situation. I was busy grieving what my life used to be, and basically feeling sorry for myself. Seeing my peers go out and have fun while I was bedridden and scared to my core about my future was a hard pill to swallow. The unknown of my future led to my anxiety forming and becoming a constant in my life. If anyone could live inside my head for a day, they would be exhausted!
Anxiety is very common and completely normal for those living with invisible chronic illness (ICI). My anxious thoughts mostly revolved around me thinking I was going to die. POTS in no way is fatal, but if you felt what my body goes through in a day, you would think you were dying as well. The amount of times I fully was convinced I was having a heart attack at the age of 21 years old is outrageous.
While I can confidently say I have definitely improved in both the anxiety and depression area, anxiety is still that one friend I can’t seem to get rid of. It follows me in all my daily tasks. The one constant mantra I have heard since the beginning of my diagnosis is “things will take time.” My catastrophizing anxiety has definitely improved over time, and I’m excited to see where I will be in another year from now.
If there is anything I have learned from my setback, it is to never take anything for granted. This does not mean that I used to, but now I look at things and appreciate them in a totally different way. The ability to move our bodies is an incredible thing. Before POTS I was training for my first half marathon. It can be easy to sit in this mindset and just feel angry, disappointed, and frustrated. I honestly do have days still like this and that’s okay. But now it is how I look at it from a different angle. Now, every time I have any movement I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude.
I also have learned that tomorrow is never promised. While to some this may feel like you are preparing for the worst, you are looking at it wrong. Tomorrow’s never promised means don’t wait to start or get done what you need to do tomorrow because you never know what will happen. We live right now in unpredictable times and I now know to live every day the best I can and accomplish what my body is willing to do because you never know if tomorrow will be a good, bad, or ugly day.
When first diagnosed, it was very easy for me to slip into being very angry and feeling jealousy towards others. I was quick to become upset with the people who loved me instead of giving the love in return. I only was thinking of myself and not considering how my diagnosis affected those close to me. I used to blame others for not putting much effort into understanding my new life, or for not showing an overly amount of support and care.
Now I no longer spend my time being in a state of anger toward my peers. I cherish and appreciate all who give me love in my life, and I know deep down that people do care about my situation. I realized I cared so much about what others thought because I genuinely didn’t want to accept my new life and keep going. I wanted to cry, scream, and feel sorrow.
I am so incredibly lucky to be where I am. I am so grateful for where life has taken me so far. I know with my strength and drive I will continue to get myself back to my “old life.”
Thank you to anyone out there who is in my life and has supported me even if it's in the background. I see you, I love you, and I wouldn’t be here without you.