Living With An Illness: The Guilt
I was doing some random YouTube surfing when I stumbled upon this video (below) of Sarah Hyland. Hyland plays a rebellious and ditsy character on the American TV series called ‘Modern Family’. Her character on the show is so bimbotic that it’s hard to believe that her real-life persona is kind, thoughtful and has far more depth than her on-screen character. I had no idea that she’s had health problems since young; I cried as I watched her interview because the guilt she feels for being a ‘burden’ to her family sounds all too familiar to me.
I’ve known many people in my life with cancer: some are still alive and some are long gone. At one point, what all of them had in common was self-blame because they believe that they only bring stress and inconvenience to their loved ones. It’s easy for an unwell person to feel this way because before an illness, they had completely different lives but then overnight, they had to adapt to a different kind of life. A life with a different schedule, more restrictions and in a way: less independence.
Any kind of illness is not ideal but no one’s existence is a burden just because they are no longer as able-bodied as they used to be. Even with an illness, you can still bring value and meaning to your life and others’.
To all the fighters out there who are currently battling an illness,
To those who are hurting inside and wished they could turn back the time,
It doesn’t matter if the illness you’re living with is cancer, cystic fibrosis, fibromyalgia, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or depression—I want you to know that you’re much more than your illness. Your illness is a part of you just like the colour of your eyes—it’s important but it’s not all there is to you. You are your hobbies, talents and dreams. You are your smile, your laughter and your sense of humour.
You are a whole entity full of wonder and delight. You are both light and darkness, strengths and flaws. You are strong, yet you are not invincible. You are human and humans are allowed to be weak like any other living being. You’re allowed to rely on others when you’re not able to take care of yourself on your own. Having others take care of you doesn’t make you any less of a success story. Your limitations are NOT failures. YOU are not a failure.
It doesn’t matter what you think about yourself right now because your opinions are not facts. You may feel guilty that your loved ones are worried about you. You may even hate yourself for the way your family and friends have to change the way they live to take care of you but taking care of you is their choice and the only choice anyone has for the people they love. That’s what family is all about—that’s what LOVE is all about.
Love is not about making easy choices; love is about making really difficult ones.
The fact that you care about your family and friends even though your health isn’t at its best shows how caring and thoughtful you are. Selfish people are burdensome. Egotistic and rude people are burdensome. A caring person is not; they are a blessing in anyone’s life. A thoughtful person is a gift to the world because far too often, people think too little of others— it’s a miracle you can think of others while you have something unimaginable to deal with.
A sickness can take away your strength and energy but don’t let it take away the light that you shine onto others. Always remember that the love and care shown to you by the people in your life is a gift: accept it gracefully. Love is rizq (provision) from Allāh, thank Him when it comes your way. Your existence is a gift to the people in your life—if only you knew just how many people pray for you and are grateful for every single minute they get to spend time with you.
You are not a burden: you are a gift.
P.S: This post is dedicated to Nina, a friend beloved to me battling stage 4 cancer. She already knows she is loved but I know many people in the same position as her may not.