Poems for Those Living With Chronic Illness
Did you know that 6 out of 10 people in the United States are living with a chronic disease? Four out of ten are living with two or more. Chronic illness is broadly defined as having a health condition for a year or longer that requires ongoing medical attention and/or impacts your activities of daily living. As with mental health, there is a very real stigma surrounding chronic illness which can cause people to feel isolated and overlooked as they suffer in silence.
When I originally started this article, I was looking for a few poems that could raise awareness about chronic illness and what an impact it can have on daily life. But, as I started reading the poetry in this community, I realized that I can’t truly capture the strength and resilience of these men and women battling chronic illness in their day to day lives in one article.
That being said, I would like to do a few installments where we feature some extremely talented poets who have created thought-provoking and eye-opening poems about life with chronic illness. Our first feature is Rina Bloom, who writes about her experience with lupus.
“Meet me in a place where
I’m a person —- not a problem
to be solved.”
This poem is such a beautiful reminder to all of us. Every person that we meet is unique, beautiful, and most importantly, human. We all have a deep desire to be truly seen for who we are, but oftentimes, people are only seen as their symptoms, diagnoses, or circumstances. We are so much more than that, and we can offer so much more than that to the people around us. This piece is such a profound message of empathy and compassion.
“fears when chronically sick:
-becoming a burden to someone
-being dependent on drugs forever
-not having health insurance
-never getting better
I think it takes incredible strength to be honest about your fears, especially as a writer. And, I know that doing so helps invite other people in to do the same. She is also helping others understand what battling chronic illness can look like. Bloom is raising awareness about lupus but also giving people a safe space to be honest about their experiences and to remind them that they aren’t alone. No matter what we are facing, we can all find comfort in finding common ground with others and moving forward together.
“hopes when chronically sick:
-heal slowly but surely
-manage the illness
-have a balanced lifestyle
-have a great support system
-educate others and spread awareness
-empower others to live better
-share our story to help fellow warriors
-live a life full of meaning”
I loved this list so much because it serves as the perfect contrast to the previous piece, exploring both sides of her emotional process in such a thoughtful and honest way. I love how it starts out with the hopes she addresses internally and then branches out to discuss her hopes for her relationships with others and the community. Heal, educate, and empower: what a beautiful message of hope.
“there she goes.
blooming in her own
time and not feeling
sorry for it.”
I love the universal message of this piece: no matter what we are facing or experiencing, we are not competing against the people around us. We all bloom in our own way and in our own time. Chronic illness can drastically impact a person’s daily activities. However, it is such a huge inspiration to me to see people like Rina Bloom and so many others who fight every day and encourage others along the way. Each of our lives is rooted in resilience, with a beautiful story waiting to blossom at its own pace. Let’s cheer each other on.
Bloom does an excellent job spreading awareness through her poetry, but she also has a story highlight on her Instagram page labeled “lupus life” that gives her readers another glimpse into what her day-to-day life is like. I am so moved by her bravery and honesty, and I know that she helps inspire others to share their stories, too. There is nothing more beautiful than writing serving as a catalyst to spur others on.
I am so inspired by Rina and I know that you will be too when you check out more of her page and her story. Poetry at its core is truly about connection and awareness. I hope her work has encouraged you to see the people around you and to allow yourself to be seen for your unique story as well.