By chance this is actually a post about two different types of anniversaries. Five years ago today I met my boyfriend, and a few weeks before that is when I developed M.E (although I didn't know that's what it was at the time).
Anniversaries of ill health are odd, are you meant to be glad you've made it through another year or sad that another year is over and you're not better yet. It's okay to acknowledge them and it's okay to not pay attention to them at all. Whatever works for you. I don't tend to dwell on them but since this is half a decade, I thought I'd mark it with a blog post. This is where I'm at at five years. Maybe by next year I'll feel different. Hell even next week or tomorrow it could be different. But this is how I feel now.
I don't know what my life would look like if I hadn't developed M.E, but I can guess what it would look like if I hadn't met Ryan and it makes me so grateful that I did. I've breathed in more fresh air, listened to more waves, and walked amongst more trees as a direct result of knowing him. My life is far richer for having him in it. He always drives so I can save spoons, he always helps me on the stairs, and he never makes me feel like my health is a burden on him.
Five years ago I started talking to a boy online. I was in hospital at the time (my last hospital stay of many as it would happen) and he kept me company. I was scared, and I was bored, but he made me laugh. I didn't really know him, but I was grateful for him even then. Even if we'd never have met in person I'd still, to this day, be grateful for the boy that kept me company through my phone. Luckily for me we did meet and today he's my bestest ever friend. He's also introduced me to some of the most supportive people I know.
A few weeks before that hospital stay I went on holiday, and I came back with M.E. I'm sure of it. I was dealing with chronic internal bleeding at the time, and I had a big bleed while away. This is where it started. I can remember the exact moment. I remember walking down the stairs to tell my Mum what had happened, and mentioned to her that my legs had also started hurting.
"What do you mean your legs hurt? Where?"
Little did I know then that years down the line I can say my legs have never stopped hurting since that moment in that villa. They've never felt the same. It's strange to me now that in that moment I had no idea Ryan existed. I wonder what he was doing that day. Years later we went back to that same villa, and being with him there dulled some of those scary memories. We replaced them with happy ones.
Meeting Ryan is entwined with getting sick and I didn't think I'd still be like this five years on. Sometimes I'm glad he didn't know me before. It means I know for a fact he's not comparing me now to me then, he's not waiting for that version of me to come back. But on the other hand it makes me sad, because he's never known me to my full potential.
Sometimes I'll go through phases where my M.E makes me feel like a wishy-washy, barely there, version of myself. It makes me sad to think that's the version of me that he knows. He always assures me it's not true, but sometimes that voice in your head is quite persistent isn't it?
In all honesty if I could go back five years and somehow magically ensure that M.E didn't strike, I wouldn't. Don't get me wrong, I'd very much like it to bugger off now. But right now I'm actually happy with the path it's led me down. As I've mentioned before I was seriously unwell before M.E, and in a roundabout way I think it might actually have saved me. Before M.E I was pushing myself and my sick body too far and was quite literally on the very brink of a heart attack at 18 years old.
I now treat my body with far more respect, including it's limitations. I'm a more compassionate, understanding, patient and appreciative person. Maybe if I hadn't had M.E my life would have gone quite differently, and I wouldn't still be with Ryan. Maybe I wouldn't have met him at all. I've found a purpose with This Thing that means a great deal to me. I've found a community online that I'm thankful for, one that has brought me some of my closest friends.
M.E really sucks. It's so difficult. It's draining, it's frustrating, and it can be lonely. I'm not trying to sugarcoat things. This shit is hard. But despite everything I count myself lucky. I think my pal here has a great deal to do with that.
I couldn't go back and tell my pre-M.E self that in five years she would be better. But I could tell her in five years she'd be okay. She'd be coping, and growing. I still cry about my M.E, and I still get mad. I've shed a lot of tears in the last five years, and I'm sure I'll continue to do so. I cried just last week because I felt so claustrophobic within my own skin. I cried because I desperately want to move and use my body like other people do. That's okay. That's allowed. Like I said, this is difficult. Despite all that though, I think I'm doing alright.
For today at least, I'm happy.