You’re seventeen when your life changes forever. You understand that time changes everything, it can’t not. You know that years would have passed and your life would have altered. Now at twenty-two you would still be a different person to that seventeen year old. Even if it hadn’t happened. You understand that. But perhaps we are all on a path and maybe at seventeen you could very clearly see yours and when it happened you stepped off it forever. You have an illness. “ Before I got sick…” you often say when talking about the past. You barely speak about your past anymore without that opening. When it happened, There was no operation for it. No blade sharp enough to cut it out of you…..and no one offered. It travelled beneath your skin and conversed with your bones, persuaded them to let it stay. It would not change them, only haunt. It mingled with the deep down flesh of you. No tar, no tight tumour, no stiffened lump. You were a lucky one. No failure of the kidneys, no abnormality of the heart. You were lucky . It was nothing you could see, nothing a doctor would spend more than ten minutes discussing. And so the war was waged. Within. You had an illness that would not degenerate you, not change your appearance and not mar the skin you wore. Once you fully came to terms with this you realised it would be easy. Easy to pretend that you did not have an illness. It was for survival. Got to be strong to survive. It wasn’t that you thought no one else had weaknesses, but that you knew you could not live in a world where the strong seemed to show everything but their vulnerability… and admit to yours. The Illness is affected by your attitude to it, that’s what the books said. And that’s how it felt. you hated your ‘Illness’. you hated how it made you afraid, afraid of pain, afraid of your own body. You hated how it made you choose medicated nothingness over the sting of everyday living. You hated how the only way for you to imagine your family understanding your pain, was to wish it upon them. you hated your ‘Illness’. So it hated you right back. You’re older now, older than seventeen. Older by years, Older by a lifetime. You have learnt that hate is not an emotion you can live through, so you have chosen hope. You understand that the only way to be truly happy is be true, true to yourself and true everyone around you about the fact that you have an illness. You have fibromyalgia. There is no cure. But there is hope. Which is more, you realise now then a lot of people are allowed.