Since today is the day of love, I thought it would only be appropriate to discuss a subject that hopefully all of you have been blessed enough to experience. Love is one of the most powerful emotions a person can experience. It can change a person’s life in many ways. I have been intrigued lately by what love can do for people who are suffering from chronic illnesses. You can go on the internet and find an exuberant amount of research that shows the effects of love on one’s brain. These studies show that when one is falling in love or actually in love, their brain is stimulated in the same exact way as if they were high on cocaine. There is a significant increase in the amount of dopamine that is released into the brain. There are lots of studies explaining the chemicals included and contributing to a person experiencing the euphoria of love.
So with all these additional chemicals being released and essentially making a person “high” while experiencing love, I wonder how that would/could positively affect someone who is chronically ill. From my own experience I can admit that while I have been in love it does help my symptoms and my ability to cope with them on a daily basis. When I am with the person I have fallen for, I feel healthier. I can do things that I wasn’t able to do prior to falling in love. My desire to live life to the fullest has been intensified. I once found myself taking a hike through the woods on a summer day. Now, I wasn’t hiking up hills or anything but being in the warm weather and taking any sort of a walk was previously out of the question. But while I was with this person I could do it. I still struggled and still required breaks and even a piggy back ride at one point, but my will to try something like that was amazing. I find it incredible that the simple presence of a person we love can make us soar to new heights that we hadn’t though possible.
I know there are medications out there for depression and other conditions that manipulate dopamine and other chemicals in our brain to produce a better state of mind. I can’t help but wonder with today’s modern technology and advances in medicine, why they can’t recreate the state of being in love through a medication. I really feel if there was a true “happy pill” that could induce the state of mind where one is falling in love, it would be incredibly beneficial for those suffering from chronic illnesses. I know I would certainly give that pill a shot.
Now on the down side of this, experiencing this euphoria that enabled me to push through my illness a bit more than usual has actually affected me negatively with the other people around me. I have friends that truly believe that my illness is psychological because when I am with someone and in love I am happy and my illness “gets better.” But when I am alone and not in love I “get worse.” So I am essentially viewed as exaggerating my symptoms and illnesses when I’m alone because I don’t “push” myself as much. This is so incredibly frustrating to me. I actually had one of my best friends say this to me. She used to be someone who understood and supported my illnesses more than any of my friends. She had followed some of my facebook updates and apparently she felt I wasn’t sick during the period where I dated my ex for three months. Then she saw on facebook that we had broken up and at the same time I spent 2 weeks in the hospital. So now she thinks that my love life directly “cures” and “causes” my illnesses. In reality, I was sick throughout my entire relationship with that person. I just try to only post positive things on my facebook as much as possible. And my ex and I actually broke up while I was in the hospital because during that hospitalization I was shown his true colors and the fact that I was not enough of a priority for him to be with me while I was sick. When a person only works 3 days a week and they can’t spend more than a total of a day and a couple of hours at the hospital with me, then it isn’t going to work for me. I’m chronically ill and I want to be with someone who will be there for me and support me when I need them the most. When my “best” friend said these things to me I realized that she truly doesn’t care. They obviously saw that I was hospitalized and going through a break up and yet the only thing they took out of that was that my break up must have been the cause for being in the hospital since my love life took a nose dive. I realized that night that I had lost yet another friend thanks to being ill. It saddens me that these people who are actually medically educated do not understand these illnesses or the clear medical evidence that supports why a person feels better when they have love in their life. I’m very thankful that I am a person who can view a situation openly and analyze it based on relevance and rational facts. Assumptions are a weapon of heartbreak to a person who is chronically ill. It’s a sad reality. It scares me that being in love may actually end up causing more issues with the people around me believing that I have a legitimate chronic illness. I kind of feel like it is common sense that a person is more motivated when they are in love. Remember being in high school and having no problem getting up in the morning because you knew you were going to get to see your first love that day? Don’t you remember having your heart broken for the first time and feeling like you didn’t want to do anything but lay in bed? I mean, it happens to everyone, not just people who are ill. But somehow for people with invisible illnesses it seems that when we are happy and in love our illnesses are obviously fake because we don’t appear to be struggling as much as when we are alone. So naturally, we must be faking. Ugh…some people are just plain stupid.
Since I have been diagnosed I have lost a lot of important people in my life. Friends that I thought I would have for my whole life are now a distant memory. I’ve learned more about life in the past 15 months than I have in the past 15 years. And in conclusion, I choose cupid’s IV. I would rather be in love and feel stronger. I would rather have my true best friend next to me who will support me through absolutely everything. So what if I am perceived that I am faking my illnesses. Those people that have those thoughts seriously need to re-evaluate their abilities to be a friend let alone a best friend. I’ll take my soul mate any day over these half-hearted friends who seriously think I am only ill when my life is lacking someone to love. I’m ready for the dopamine rush and the euphoria that gives me a day where I forget I’m sick for one single hour. We don’t have to prove ourselves to anyone other than the people who truly love us…and we know who those people are. They are the ones who have never once questioned our illnesses. They have just been there for us. I’m very grateful for the people I have in my life like that. I love every single one of you. You know who you are. For those of you reading this that are chronically ill. Take advantage of this day of love and reach out to those people in your life who are your true supporters. Tell them thank you today and that you love them. We certainly couldn’t make it through our journey’s without people like them! I want to give a special thank you to the friends and family of mine who have always been my support system since the very beginning. They have never questioned whether or not I’m sick and they have been there no matter what. My brother DJ, Christina, Bruce, Curtiss, Ashlee Smith, Joanna, Mike, Christole, Crystal, Jenn, and KC. You all are so incredibly special to me. I love you very much. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!!