A Young Girl’s Guide to Chronic Illness

A Young Girl’s Guide to Chronic Illness

My columns are for anyone living with a period that is screwing up their life. This also is a safe place for those indirectly affected by endometriosis, or anyone who crosses me during one of my “hormonal” days and needs to see that I’m not a monster all of the time.

Yet today, I want to reach out to a particular group of people: young girls afflicted by a chronic illness. I used to be one, and I remember how tough it was. 

If you are a young girl relying on medication, seeing doctors more often than everyone in your school, or spending more days in bed than anyone else, listen up.

Your illness may have shown up uninvited, and that’s OK.

I started showing signs of my illness early in life. In fact, endometriosis began taking hold of my body possibly before my first period hit. It set me apart and limited me in many ways.

For example, I loved my physical education class, yet sports were simply out of reach for me, no matter how hard I tried. Whenever we practiced running, I wanted to finish first and had the legs to do so. But I was prone to fainting and bouts of low energy. 

Some may throw their own negativity at you.

My PE teacher believed me, noticing my almost translucent skin and the bags under my eyes. Yet some of my school peers disliked me for being the one who was “always sick.” I collected judgmental looks and mean words starting at age 11. I was bullied from then on.

I was constantly reminded of how tired I look. People stared because of my big fat cystic acne spreading uncontrollably across my face. Whenever I was in pain, I reached for baggy sweaters to conceal my swollen belly. I couldn’t wash my hair during my period as everything hurt so much. A friend once happily informed me how “everyone” thought I looked “really messy” and could probably be cute if only I made a little effort.

I know what it is to grow up with a body hell-bent on sabotaging your plans. It can make you feel like a broken doll in a world where often the unkindest voices ring the loudest. So, I can say with confidence: Don’t listen to those voices.

What others consider beautiful is a made-up, arbitrary thing. 

Beauty standards are based on whatever is trending, even when it is unreal or completely unattainable. Many social media influencers photoshop their pictures, and celebrities have teams of people curating their looks to please whatever brand they are selling. It is all artificial and can make many of us feel unworthy. Flaws are erased, and bad days are hidden. It is all an unfair lie. 

Anyone who looks at you funny, thinks your body should look or move a certain way, or tells you you’re not good enough is blind to the strength that lies within you, a superpower they will never own. 

You may have a chronic illness, but you also have superpowers within. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

You probably have heard of Beyoncé and know that she is one fierce warrior woman. But if you were born after the noughties (the aughts for those of you in the U.S.), you may not know about a song she wrote before she became Queen B. She performed it with her girl band, Destiny’s Child. That song is “Survivor,” and that is who you are: a powerful work of art.

You will do things that those pointing at you because you are ‘different’ will never do. 

You have a rare gift: resilience. And girl, not everyone has it. People give up daily on everything, including their dreams, responsibilities, relationships, and even themselves. But you are the kind of person who will never throw in the towel, not even when you are lying on a hospital bed, unable to move. 

I went on to be courageous enough to sing live in front of an audience. I ran a marathon. Whenever I spot a bully, I stand up for those who can’t. I have traveled alone to far-off lands and danced among thousands of strangers.

I play hard, and I have a chronic illness inside me; a painful, autoimmune, silent disco party that knocks me off my feet often. It makes me “different,” but it is not who I am.

Jarvis pretty much has been over trying to be like any other pup since day one. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

You will achieve so much, and you will do it your own way. 

Rebel hearts go for the road less traveled, sometimes by choice, and other times because we are forced to. Yet we get to our destination, ready to do it all over again. You are so much more than the illness tripping you up.

Just like Beyoncé, you are a warrior already. 


Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.