All chronic illness sufferers know the heart-wrenching impact of watching the person they once were fade into oblivion. As your symptoms take hold of your body and mind, simple pleasures that you once enjoyed can become completely achievable.
As a child, there was no stopping me. There wasn’t a sports team, dance club, or outdoor pursuit for which I wouldn’t sign up. As I got older, this translated into long nights danced away in thriving clubs and jetting off into the country for an adventure. The world was such an incredible and exciting place, and I wanted to grasp every offered opportunity. It was safe to say…
…I Liked To Move.
As time went on, life got harder. The symptoms that had niggled me since I was young were growing in intensity, and it was preventing me from living life. Anxiety, pain, and fatigue were taking over my everyday. Endless trips to the doctor proved fruitless. Until one day, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. And then another one. And then another one.
Now, I have eight shiny labels under my belt. Eight reasons why I’ll probably never dance, run or stay up all night again. Eight suffocating boulders that I must carry with me wherever I go.
Saying goodbye to who I used to be destroyed me. It seemed as if everything good had been taken away and all that remained was this broken shell of a person.
However, there’s another key fact to know about chronic illness warriors: nothing will stop us.
Giving up sports was one thing; giving up travel was a whole different situation. I got my first diagnosis while preparing for a two-month global excursion. The money was paid, my hopes were high, and I refused to let my health stop me.
The trip was… challenging, but it taught me an incredible lesson:
I could be sick anywhere.
A panic attack is a panic attack; the situation or trigger is irrelevant. Being crippled with pain in the comfort of my bed is really not that different from being crippled with pain in a hotel on the other side of the world. Chronic vomiting is just as easy to handle on a plane as it is in your own home. It’s graphic and unpleasant, but nonetheless true. If being sick was what my life would be now, it would be like that no matter the location. There’s an understandable element of security when it comes to illness. You want to be in familiar surroundings where you know you can manage the symptoms. However, it is possible to achieve this while on the move! All you have to do is learn to travel smarter, and the world is your oyster!
My decision to blog came for a multitude of reasons, all of which have helped me grow as a person. I wanted to write about travel, but the fear of seeming like a fraud compared to the full-time backpackers was very real. I wanted to post about health, but would I be seen as another whiny millennial?
As time went on, it was this exact fear that motivated me to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) and share my experience. My mental and chronic illness may cause very real limitations, but it doesn’t stop me from being an avid and passionate traveler. Just as your ailments – whatever they may be – shouldn’t ever stop you from doing what you love. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
Travel allowed me to find the real me, lost beneath all of my problems. Sure, things have changed, but my raw essence of self is still there. While my health conditions will always be a part of my life that I wear proudly, they are not the definition of who I am. I may not be able to move as much as I used to, but at least I can still move me – as hard as it might sometimes be!
I blog because I want others to know it’s possible. Not only to travel when you suffer from chronic and mental illness but also to achieve happiness and purpose no matter what your obstacles are.
Travel freed my caged body and mind; I’d love to know what freed yours – be it books, writing, art or anything else. There are so many beautiful people out there who have found passion within their illness. Please leave a comment below to share your story!
About the Author:
Sarah is a travel and chronic illness blogger with a lust for life. She loves photography and videography. After completing a degree in drama, she applies her creative mind to navigating existence with numerous physical and mental health conditions. She believes everyone has a powerful voice and lessons to teach if we’re willing to listen! Check out her site – Wayfaring Sarah – for more content!