A whole new decade

I turn 30 this month and the thought of that it is making me incredibly reflective.

Not many people like getting older but I can’t say that it is something that has ever really bothered me. Until getting ill that is.

I was diagnosed in November 2010, just three days before my birthday. So you see it’s always a time when I get quite melancholy. But the thought of entering a whole new decade and leaving my twenties behind is something I’m actually finding really challenging.

Over 80% of my twenties will have been dominated by illhealth.

That is not to say that there haven’t been momentous times, particularly over the past few years. People LOVE to point out the positives and try to find solutions when we might confide in them that we’re struggling with something like this. Many interpret me struggling with turning 30 as me being ungrateful for the wonderfulness that is my little life. If you’re wanting to reply with a list of the lovely things that have happened in my twenties since being ill, please save your time and energy. The proof of those incredible times are framed and hanging on my walls. They are the things that continue to give me hope that more loveliness is to come.

I feel lucky that I have never been the type of person to aspire to certain things by a set deadline. I did not want to a married by a certain age. I didn’t have a set profession in mind that I wanted to be a part of by a certain age. While it never entered my head that I wouldn’t have children by now, it was never a desire or dream that impacted heavily on my life. So while my life isn’t quite how I envisaged it would be, I am not crushed by disappointment because I had never imagined a future where I was anything in-particular.

I did however only ever see myself as healthy; a fully fit member of society; someone with a job; someone whose weekends were things to look forward to; someone who made plans with their friends weekly. Ultimately I imagined myself as someone FREE.

When I was diagnosed in 2010 and told by the neurologist to have a “quiet Christmas” and see how I was in a few weeks, I never envisaged that my life would still be ruled by such a restrictive illness.

Of course age is just a a number, but it signifies the passing of another year. For the majority of people with chronic illness every single birthday is hard because we it marks another year of illhealth and suffering and no full recovery. Our lives are passing us by and we are simply unable to fully participate in them. And to be moving into a whole new decade feels very different.

I feel the sympathy that most people feel when they hear about someone in their teens or twenties is suffering so acutely doesn’t seem to run through and apply to those in their thirties.

I know that there is absolutely nothing I can do about it (other than pretend I’m turning 28 or 29 again!) and that I will have to make my peace with it like I’ve had to do with my health but I am struggling to feel anything other than deflated.

My twenties will be gone and I will have been unable to work or sleep through the night or be financially independent or walk anywhere outside of the house without immense pain and exhaustion. I will have been unable to support my friends and family at the times they needed more than virtual moral support.

Yes I ‘should’ focus on the things I have been able to do, but allow me this time to feel a little glum. It is a big deal in my poorly little life. Allow me that. As always I am working hard to find the silver linings (and my goodness there are many!) but for now, the predominant emotion is one of sadness.

Categories invisible illness

5 thoughts on “A whole new decade

  1. I didn’t develop ME until my forties, wasn’t diagnosed until my fifties. But I remember turning thirty as one of the most significant decade changes. As my children and friends reach that milestone, I see it in them, too. Childhood and teen years really do belong to that other country that is the past. And of course, for you, there is the extra dimension of living a life you never imagined and wouldn’t have chosen, not that choice is ever actually something we get when it comes to health. Of course you are allowed to lament, to grieve; those who try to skip (figuratively, skipping isn’t something those of us with ME actually do) through life with forced Pollyanna-ish smiles will pay a price in the end; pretence always comes with a price tag. As your birthday approaches and your decade changes, be kind and gentle with yourself. Don’t be harsh. You know the things that delight your heart, and the things that break it. Your soul needs time to express both. And here’s to the next season; I’m wishing you unexpected joys and unimagined blessings. Many happy returns 🥂🎂

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    1. Julia this message was just so wonderful to read. Thank you so much

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  2. I nodded in understanding all the way through that and wanted to hold your hand. I feel the same about my approaching 40th. The big one that everyone celebrates, life begins at 40 as the kids have grown up and gone to uni etc…, the career settled, roots put down and life in control. For me no job I love, no kids and most of my 30’s struggling with severe ME invisible from the world.
    I understand, I care I wish I could offer more but sending love.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely message. Sending love back to you

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