Suffering With Joy

“Suffering with joy.” I heard this phrase yesterday on the radio and it so clearly summarized what I believe the expectation is for women with chronic illness. Sweep your pain, exhaustion, confusion and well-justified anger under the rug for the comfort of everyone else. It comes as no surprise that society would expect women to consistently display a good-natured disposition; this is a normative gender expectation. However, the pressure to “find joy in the journey” graduates to magnificent proportions for women who have chronic illness. Every day, I am bombarded by Memes, inspirational posts and cliched representations of chronic illness. These are targeted toward women! They have pastel colors, feature adorable animals and are packaged in ways that are supposed to appeal to females. They make me cringe. I feel no guilt about my anger regarding chronic illness. I am entitled to be mad, sad, envious, depressed, cranky and every other emotion that feels authentic. I’ve been through some cataclysmic torture and that deserves recognition. So, I just want to encourage all of the women out there to feel safe in expressing the full spectrum of emotions. This is not negative, this is real life.

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