How Having A Chronic Illness Has Made My Relationship Stronger

by Jessica Delaney
Fox 2000 Pictures

To say it’s been a difficult year would be a major understatement.

I feel like I've been through a war and am just now coming out on the other side. I definitely have some battle wounds, but I wouldn’t change them for anything. I think that because of them, I have become a much better person.

I’ve learned that no matter how much you plan out your future, you never know how fast things can change.

I met my boyfriend three weeks after moving to a new city. I hadn’t been looking to meet someone because I had always notoriously been the single girl in my friend group.

There was no denying the fact that we were instantly very attracted to each other. I was in love with his sense of humor and intelligence. He loved my quirky and adorable nature. There was a spark between us that people envied.

We would spend hours talking, laughing and learning about each other. He made my insecurities go away, and I felt beautiful in every way. I had never been in a relationship that was so happy and healthy. I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world.

Six months after meeting him, he asked me to move in with him. I had never lived with a boy before, so I was obviously terrified.

We found an apartment and paid our friends in pizza and beer to help us paint it. We had makeshift furniture because we were ridiculously broke. We ate sandwiches and chips for dinner because that’s all we could afford.

I’d never been so broke in my life, but I’d also never been so happy.

A year after being together, I knew he was the guy I wanted to marry. We had survived our first year together and managed to stay blissfully happy. I knew I wanted him by my side for the rest of my life.

Time flew and before we knew it, he had graduated university and gotten a great job. I was about to graduate and start an internship.

It was our second year together and we were really starting to put roots down and talk seriously about our future together. I had mentally mapped out our future for the next 10 years and naively thought it would all turn out as planned.

We had been through a few tough times in our relationship, but nothing had prepared us for when I got sick. Almost three years after we met, I woke up one morning with a life-changing autoimmune disease.

Thus began months of being thrown back and forth between hospitals, doctors and specialists. We were terrified I was dying because of how bad my pain was. The fact was that the doctors had no idea what was wrong with me.

The terms “chronic pain patient” and “disability” were thrown at me along with an official, devastating diagnosis.

My boyfriend was a saint during that dark time. Through all of my panic attacks and ER visits, he stayed positive. This was all while I plummeted into a deep depression.

I was never going to be the person I thought I would be. I was told I would probably never be able to work again and I would be on medication for the rest of my life.

I began to mourn my own life. In my mind, I had died. I would never be the vibrant, young and carefree woman I once was. Instead, I was now living a life that consisted of doctors, painkillers and unimaginable daily pain.

I was angry at everything and everyone. I was mad at women in the grocery store who were happy and healthy. I was mad at couples who walked by me on the street.

I had turned into a negative and broken person.

Once I got over the shock of my diagnosis, I realized I was probably about to lose my boyfriend too. Despite his constant love and affection during this time, I convinced myself he was going to leave me.

Why would he want to stay with a chronically ill girl? He could go out, pick up any girl and be happy with her and her perfectly healthy body.

I told my boyfriend every day that he would eventually leave me and go on with his own life.

The fear of losing him almost did make me lose him. And it was at that moment I knew I had to change.

I needed to be more positive and tackle my diagnosis head on. I decided to take a natural and holistic route of healing. I completely cleaned up my diet, started doing yoga and slowly began enjoying life again.

The fact my boyfriend stuck with me through this horrible time in my life made me realize he was always going to stick by me. I didn’t need to be worried when he went out, feel jealous or ever worry about not spending enough time with him.

He completely loved me.

Instead of obsessing over plans or thinking about what we should be doing, I learned to stop and enjoy the present moments we share together. I don’t worry about “the next step” anymore because I have already hit rock bottom. Anything other than how I used to feel is amazing.

We are at a thriving point in our relationship. We love and respect each other and we know conquering my illness together has made it clear we can handle anything that comes our way.

I know this is just one of the many difficult times we will probably face in our lives, but I also know we’ll be there for each other at the end of each and every one of them.

Having a chronic illness is difficult, but I am grateful for the way it has opened my eyes and made me realize life is all about perspective.

I could have stayed the depressed and sick girl my whole life, but now I am back at work. I am healthy and genuinely very happy.