Chronic illness is Like Getting Your Heart Broken Again and Again

Chronic Pain is like reliving your worst moments over and over
Chronic Pain is like reliving your worst moments over and over

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.

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.

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno


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.

3 thoughts on “Chronic illness is Like Getting Your Heart Broken Again and Again

  • August 21, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Hi Jess,
    I feel so bad for you. Try 12-15 LRX a day until the pain goes away. Take more of the 24K as well. There is no overdose. If you read some posts in Reliving International, some people take as many or more just to get over the hump.
    I hope you feel better soon.

  • January 24, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    Thank you for explaining chronic illness this way. I live with hereditary chronic pancreatitis, gastroparesis, type 1 diabetes and depression. Every time we have a good day, or with luck a good week, a flare up comes again. Plans have to be postponed, people feel let down, then we feel guilty and the heartbreak comes. We feel hopeful because a procedure or medication or surgery makes us feel better for a while and we feel “normal,” for us anyway, then another flare up. Our family, friends and even spouses and children thought we were “better.” Then comes the let down and guilt and feeling of lost hope when we had so much. And so does the heartbreak. We fight daily to get through the basic, mundane things in life. Sometimes we win, sometimes we fail and we get so worn down. We have an important event to attend or task to complete. Sometimes we come through, sometimes we don’t. Then comes the heartbreak when we can’t, or when we can and spend the next week in bed recovering.
    Pain robs us of so many things. Friendships, careers, things that once brought us great joy, family ties, time with our kids, marriages, and so on and so on.
    Chronic illness is just that-chronic. We will never be “better”, we are forever changed. Pain causes many people to morph into people they don’t even recognize as themselves-physically, mentally and spiritually. Sometimes it’s all 3 or a combination of the 3.
    As a 30 year survivor of chronic illness, I’ve had many high points in my life, and an equal number of lows. Ive learned many things over the years. 1) educate yourself about your condition! You are your best advocate. Learn as much as you can about your disease process and stand up for yourself when you’re being treated unfairly. Just because a medical professional says it, doesn’t mean it’s correct. If you aren’t receiving proper care, speak up! If the doctor is basing your care off of incorrect information or incompetence about your condition, speak up! They are much more likely to include you in your care plan if you are well informed and know your body! Not only will this potentially save your life, it could help save someone else’s in the future! 2) people will judge and people will leave. Those that do… Let them walk away! Surround yourself with a loving positive support system. Your life depends on it! 3) at some point, you’re going to ask, why me? I’ve done it. I’ll admit it. But I know that I am not suffering unnecessarily. There is a reason behind it. I may not ever know why, but I can only see small pieces of a much much bigger picture. My daughter has the gene mutation for chronic pancreatitis. Maybe my suffering is so that she won’t have to go through everything I have. Maybe my suffering is to help support others with the same issues. Whatever it is, I may not like the fact that life sometimes down right sucks, but I’ll keep moving forward until I no longer can!
    Now. I’m not a perfect person. I whine, complain and have days I don’t want to speak to anyone. But I decided a long time ago to make the most of the situation I’m in with the hand I’ve been dealt. So, I’ll take every heartbreak, because I know that there’s going to be a lot of them, and try to piece it back together until there’s nothing left.


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