I’m the kind of person who has to have four resolutions at once. My mother is the kind of person who has to fit every resolution into a box. While I was trying to celebrate fall, live minimally, apply to graduate schools, and binge-watch Friends, my mother was simply trying to be surrendered. On Christmas Eve she asked the family what our word for the year was going to be. My dad said fat. My sister said save. I guess my word should be fulfilled.
When I first got diagnosed with a chronic illness, I surfed the internet for online support groups. I never realized PCOS was so common or so discouraging. I never joined a group and I don’t talk about my illness much, but today, during a time of resolution-awareness, I think it may be time.
While some chronic illnesses cause immense pain, mine does not, in the physical sense. I don’t have trouble walking or standing or doing ordinary tasks around my apartment. Depending on the day, I take two or three pills each morning. The pain comes when I miss a pill: migraines, extreme fatigue, abdominal pain, and emotional trauma. Probably like most people, I have to be careful about what I eat. Too many fatty foods cause intense stomach pain. My family has the tendency to gain weight easily as well as get diabetes. While I am not diabetic yet, I have to be even more careful that the way I eat does not push me over the edge. Because of the pills I’m taking, I have to be careful about sodium intake and iron. I can’t have too much of either or my body’s hormonal balance would mess up.
So far I haven’t described anything that differs drastically from any other human being. Most people experience migraines and stomach aches from time to time. Most women obsess about what they eat. My biggest battles are fought as I get ready in the morning.
When I take a shower and see clumps of hair in the tub, when I gather the clumps of hair into my fist and count them before flushing them, when I sweep up the hair that fell on the bathroom tile while I got ready, when I can’t cover up the bald spot no matter how I style my hair, when the water in the sink won’t go down the drain because it’s clogged with hair, when I brush my wet hair and see my scalp, when someone remarks on how fine my hair is, I need to cry. Knowing that nothing will change the fact that I’m losing hair is one of my most helpless feelings.
I try hard not to let my illness define me, which is why I don’t talk about it much. But I do feel like it’s something I should put on my online-dating profile: has chronic illness; has expensive bills; may go bald; may become fat. But I want desperately to feel fulfilled, regardless of circumstances.
So that’s it: I will study and be fulfilled; I will organize my apartment and be fulfilled; I will spoil myself and be fulfilled; I will read books and be fulfilled; I will drink coffee and be fulfilled; I will diet and be fulfilled; I will sweep up my hair and be fulfilled; I simply must be fulfilled.