Chronic illness is Like Getting Your Heart Broken Again and Again

*This article was originally published in 2015. I have been busy with graduate school. Pray for me. Kidding; not kidding.

I’m in so much pain right now I probably shouldn’t even be writing.  But I am.  This week has been filled with doctors appointments and tests (some of them painful).  And one of the most awful flare-ups of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) happening just as I was feeling good about the recent progress I was making with myasthenia gravis.   A pain flare-up today doesn’t mean I was not in pain yesterday, it just means my daily pain is multiplied by twenty.  I had a brief respite this week when I went to the movies with my niece and nephews.  But now, I’m back to being in excruciating pain.  I took a quarter of a sleeping pill last night knowing it might screw up my bipolar sleep schedule because the pain was too tremendous.  I needed to sleep through it.  Problem is when I woke up, the pain was there again.  Now, I’ve been here before.  And I’ll be here again.  This is like round 1,000 of Jessica vs. PCOS.

Credit: Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

And I know I’ll get through this.  At some point, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe two weeks from now, this flare-up will end.  One thing I realized this week is that living with chronic illness is like getting your heart broken again.  Over and over.

Like Groundhog’s Day

Imagine some of the worst moments in your life–the ones that led you to open a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and watch TV in bed for a week.  Maybe it was the messy breakup when your relationship ended in a restaurant.  Maybe your boss laid you off.  Or maybe you left a job you had forever because your boss and coworkers were toxic.  Or the time you realized a friendship was over.  You might have taken steps to move on like unfriending your ex on Facebook, deleting certain contacts from your phone, or learning new skills so you could get a job you like.  Depending on what you could control, you tried your best to make your life better.  But what if you were forced to relive those moments again and again?  What if every Saturday night you got to relive that breakup and have the ugly cry at that restaurant?  What if you got laid off every Monday like it was Groundhog’s Day?  That would probably drive you nuts.

Illness Knows No Boundaries

The thing with chronic illness is that I can’t just move on.  I cannot extract myself from this toxic situation.  I can’t draw boundaries; the PCOS or the myasthenia or the psoriasis will come for me.  In fact, they’re here every single day.  I try my best and I have great moments, sometimes great days even.  But I’m still in pain everyday.  If you’re a healthy person reading this who wonders why/how your sick friend has changed, it’s because chronic pain breaks our hearts again and again. We try our best with doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, different treatments, and so forth–but we’re still forced to relive some of our worst moments.


Hi there! I am a patient advocate, writer, and public speaker most well known for my TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed.” As someone who is juggling 5 illnesses: bipolar 2, myasthenia gravis, endometriosis, psoriasis, and asthma, I’m passionate about helping people who navigate life with both chronic physical & emotional pain. If you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, check out the CONTACT tab.

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