This is an ongoing series of therapeutic photography that explores my experience with chronic illness. I have photographed mundane things significant to me because of this experience that others may not notice. It is a therapeutic process in that I am sharing a part of myself that many people do not understand. Additionally, writing about the photos and how each thing affects me releases the tension I feel around them. I have partnered the photos with my handwritten testimonials to make them more personal.
Some people handle my chronic illness better than others, but they often don’t accept that things could be this bad. They believe I should exercise more or do yoga and that would solve my problems. They don’t accept that everything in my life is a challenge, and if I focus on too much I will crash and burn. If I am working or studying, most of my spare time is for recovery. Even daily tasks like brushing my hair and making a meal hurt me, so when they have all added up I am left exhausted. I could focus all my time on getting fit but then how would I support myself? And anyway, I can get as fit and healthy as I like and it won’t change the fact that I have faulty connective tissue. All I can do is live my life at a slower pace than others, exercising when I can and trying to eat healthily. I rely on a support system that makes me feel like a fraud because my disabilities are invisible. I feel pressure to be what others expect me to be rather than accepted for my differences.
I walk around in fear of encountering the things in my photos and much more. I feel constant anxiety while I’m out and about, where is the next challenge? How will I deal with it? Who will be there? How will they deal with it? When can I go home and rest my body and mind? And the worst part is how all of it is trapped inside me. I cannot share it, I am the only one in this battle. I feel lonely.
Yet I have people in my life that love and support me. I have friends living with similar battles who understand. I have to remind myself of the positives every day so that I don’t drown in the pain. And I need people to accept that life is hard for me so that I don’t feel so alone.