What happens when your life starts to fall apart?
For 23-year-old Peyton Connor, that happened last November when she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
The long-term chronic condition can cause increased sensitivity to pain, extreme fatigue, trouble sleeping, and memory loss.
After collapsing at work in late 2019, multiple tests revealed that she had the condition, which completely changed her life.
The condition can cripple, it can cause people to fall into isolation. Some sufferers completely lose their social life.
Here, Peyton writes a heartbreaking letter to those closest to her.
A letter to my loved ones (what I wish you knew)
Dear family, dear friends,
First of all, know how much I love you. I am so grateful that you stayed and put up with me and all the madness that has surrounded me since I started getting sick.
She couldn’t have gotten over the grueling stage of diagnosis and all the disbelief of those who didn’t think she was ill without their support.
While I proved them wrong, you have no idea how much I wish they were right, that there was nothing wrong, and that it was all a fantasy.
I wish I could put into words how genuinely heartbroken I am.
Unless you have been in my place, you cannot understand how painful it is to see so many opportunities taken away, so many dreams gone, even before you had a chance to hold onto them.
It is a pain both mental and physical, a pain in my head and in my heart.
Life throws these things at us for a reason, and we have to find a way to survive, but that doesn’t make it an easy thing to do.
We adapt to the situation we find ourselves in, because we have to. It is the only option we have, to move on.
Not only am I heartbroken, I’m angry. Who wouldn’t be?
We wonder why us, why me, but there are no answers to those questions.
Think about them for too long and you will go crazy. It doesn’t start out as a fiery, glowing type of anger, it burns.
Enough so that you don’t feel it at first. But then add a layer. And other. And other. Until everything is engulfed in hatred.
This disease is like a thief, but it is a clever thief. This thief knows not to break in and steal everything in one go.
That would be too easy, too noticeable, and it would end too soon.
Instead, this particular thief is wary. It hides in the shadows, taking things one at a time, so that at first you won’t even notice.
He dismisses it with a shrug when he notices that the shaking starts randomly. You ignore that crunch of pain that is always in the same place and doesn’t seem to change.
You laugh at the memory loss and cover up the fact that you’re having accidents, jokes about keeping your legs crossed when you cough in the future. You keep going.
And because you keep going, you push all the demons that are pulling you, people think you’re okay. You reaffirm this belief by telling them again that yes, you are okay.
When they express their concerns, you tell them convincingly that it is just a cold, a hint of the flu, at that time of the month. You lie about it. Because in life we are only taught how to keep moving forward.
And when you find yourself believing the lie, then and only then is the thief attacking.
You will gather your entire collection, along with some new things that you have found around your body, and you will be gone. He’ll make sure to unplug a few wires and fuse a few plugs together in his mind before he leaves.
And that’s when reality hits you. Suddenly, you are not the person you used to be, and what you are now is a stranger to you.
Coming face to face with an impostor in your brain, after 23 years of loneliness, control… is terrifying.
It is ingrained in you to fight this impostor. We don’t like to let strangers take control. But they are much stronger than us.
We try to fight the impostor, medicate them into submission, dissuade them from their position. We try to think positive, exercise and diet, and change parts of ourselves in hopes of driving the impostor out of our minds… but the joke is on us.
These changes are just his subtle way of gaining even firmer control over us. We play in their hands.
So what is left for us to do, except adjust, accept the rules that this impostor, this thief, has made necessary and adapt to those conditions.
We change our whole life, we change all our habits and we say goodbye to the dreams that we have had since childhood. We accept that it was not meant to be.
So all that remains is to ask you, my loved ones, my friends… to accept this as well. Accept that what we do is not by choice, but more because we had no options left to make.
Accept that we are not weak, but simply use up all of our strength.
Accept that we are not lazy, but tired.
And accept that we don’t like these changes any more than you.
But, as history shows, we are made to adapt. We did so.