There are some of us who have been told for most of our lives that we’re weird, or different, or unique, or strange, or eccentric. Told this by unkind people, kind people, friends, family, romantic partners, co-workers, strangers. We’ve never been seen as ‘normal’. Which is hurtful at times, frustrating at times, and often isolating.
We don’t think or express ourselves in quite the same way that ‘regular’ people do. Which is something we can – and should – learn to really love about ourselves. But even if we do love and appreciate that element of who we are, it often makes us feel very alone, and feel that no matter where we are, we don’t quite belong there.
As well, for those of us who also live with constant, intense chronic pain, we not only feel isolated, we are regularly burdened by bouts of physical and mental depression.
Being ‘different’ and feeling alone because of it, is just a fact of our existence. Being in pain – and disheartened and drained by it when our inner reserves of strength and willpower run low, which they do frequently – is another fact of our existence.
These are not things we have the ability to change. They just are. What many of us have done and can do, is accept them as peacefully as we can, and then consciously choose to keep going… When we’re lonely, we keep going. When we’re deeply sad, we keep going. When our body hurts so much we can’t walk, or even stand up straight, we keep going.
It’s the only good choice we have. That doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly hard to do. Everyone who lives with mental and/or physical difficulties makes that same challenging choice about a thousand times a day.
What that means, is a lot of the time, it’s a struggle to do even the most basic, essential things involved in taking care of yourself. It’s very hard to describe this, but trust me, something as simple as making a meal, or cleaning the bathroom, or getting groceries, takes iron resolve to do, and it’s completely, blindingly exhausting. Some days are productive; some days are just grey nothing. Neither is optional, neither is predictable.
I can guarantee you that you know someone, or several someones who live this way. And you almost certainly find yourself feeling frustrated with them, or judging them for rarely socializing, for keeping unusual hours, for not being energetic, for hesitating to commit to plans, for taking too long to reply to messages, etc.
One of the most helpful things you can do, is to stop measuring those people by the standards and choices you have in your own life. Instead, remember that living with pain or illness of any kind, even living with loneliness, isn’t always a visibly obvious thing. Neither is the heroic amount of determination it takes to keep going anyway.