Gender & Identity, Life

My worst nightmare didn’t harden me, it only made me kinder

I was always a kind and altruistic human being so when this nightmare of an illness hit me overnight, I was shocked and bothered wondering what or who I could’ve wronged for me to be suffering this fate.

Trigger warning: mentions and descriptions of physical and mental illnesses.

People tend to assume that going through hardships is reason enough to harden a person, but I didn’t instead I became a kinder human being. One day I woke up to an illness that caused me to be in extreme physical pain and covered my entire body with rashes. I couldn’t eat, talk, sleep or do anything without someone’s help.

I’d gone from being an independent young woman to a shriveled up seemingly insignificant being who didn’t know if she’d wake up to see the light next day.

But, I did. Eventually, I did.

It took quite a while for me to get there, and then to get better to the point that I’m able to write about this experience of mine without letting it consume me whole. And it hasn’t been easy; the entire experience of getting here has been anything but a cakewalk. It’s been tough and it’s definitely taken a toll on me but I’ve actually come out of it feeling better and softer (to the vulnerabilities of the world around me).

It’s hardened me in the sense that I’m mostly unaffected by the triviality of life that used to be the bane of my existence pre-illness, but now I’m soft to the fact that I’m not alone in this seemingly scary world. I was always a kind and altruistic human being so when this nightmare of an illness hit me overnight, I was shocked and bothered wondering what or who I could’ve wronged for me to be suffering this fate.

Consumed by an illness I never dreamt would hit me, and so it did, overnight – I was bewildered and disappointed. Suddenly, my life had come to an absolute halt. While my friends planned their future, I was stuck going from one hospital to another, trying to figure out what was going to help me get better. Here’s the thing though, for the longest time – I didn’t get better. It only got worse. I was losing all hope. But it was that little shred of me that wasn’t losing any hope that’s probably the reason why I’m here.

Eventually, I did start getting better. I found the right set of doctors and therapists who helped me heal – both physically and emotionally. But a lot of the emotional work had to be carried out by me alone. Soon enough – with enough self-reflection – I realized that my belief in destiny strengthened through this (rather horrible) experience of mine and I hadn’t done anything wrong to anyone, but what’s meant to happen has a way of happening on its own.

Getting back to life after this ended up being easier than I anticipated it to be.

Everyone around me was shocked as to how I could be so kind and so vibrant despite having been through so much but it honestly wasn’t even something I had to force myself to be – I just was. In a way, having suffered so much just ended up making me realize the worth of my life and my place in the world – which I didn’t realize as deeply before the illness. After the illness, I realized I didn’t want to waste my life away being stuck in bed. I didn’t want to be insignificant. I wanted to be everything I could possibly be.

My understanding of this entire experience is quite simple, really. I suffered a lot but now that it’s in the past. I don’t wish for this to dictate how I live my life beyond it.

I don’t wish to let it control my thoughts and actions. I’ve liberated myself from my demons of the past and embraced myself to be the person I am today – a kind, soft, brave, and vibrant human being in all the glory of being alive.

The world might be a cruel place at times, and life might get really hard but I don’t have to be the same.

I can’t let one isolated bad experience define the person I am for the rest of my life. I’ve chosen to retain the humanity in me, the real me, instead of succumbing to the attractive yet unhealthy coping mechanisms that could make me feel satisfied for a short period but end up giving me more pain in the long run.

I faced my demons head on and defeated them in the process too. They still come to haunt me, at times – but they still don’t know that I’m a lot stronger than they’ll ever be.