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Coming Out of the Closet with Chronic Illness

So, no, not “coming out of the closet” like that. ;)

More like this:

Hi, my name is Tiffany, and I have a debilitating chronic illness.

You’d be surprised how long it’s taken me to be able to say that.

Two years.

I’ve suffered from migraines since puberty, but they were manageable with medication, and very infrequent (ranging from once every couple of weeks, to a couple of periods of a year or more without an episode). But two years ago, things changed.

For two years now, I have had a debilitating headache every day.

Yeah, every single day.

Migraines frequently, but not daily. But on the other days very painful headaches, accompanied by vertigo, extreme fatigue, and other symptoms.

I am under the care of a neurologist who specializes in migraines. We’ve tried at least ten separate treatments so far, including Botox and a wide array of medications.

I have had an MRI, a sleep study, and a detailed eye exam. I know what foods and things are migraine triggers, and avoid them. I have tried chiropractic, massage, and other therapies.

We even moved out of our home and to a more sterile environment in a different neighborhood, in case toxins in the house were to blame.

For a long, long time, I expected it to get better. Every day I thought that even though things were slipping out of control with the housekeeping, the homeschooling, my marriage, my corporate worship, never mind my wishes to sew and garden… it would all get better, because surely tomorrow I’d feel better.

I no longer believe that.

I am still searching for a better treatment. I am still praying for relief.

But I am now able to see that, at this moment, this is simply my lot in life.

I may be able to whip up some butter from the milk we buy, but I cannot commit to a big and long-term project like soap making, or keeping the plants watered.

After trying an anti-depressant medication which was also supposed to be a good headache preventative, I realized how depressed I actually was. It didn’t help the headaches, but after much soul-searching, I am continuing to take it. Maybe this “boost” has helped me to take a more objective look at things, and explore ways to make things work.

I’ve hired a neighborhood teenager to come over and read to my kids for an hour twice a week. It’s an easy job, so she’s not charging much. This is enabling us to keep on track with our schooling. Since we prefer a literature-based approach to learning, and since neither of the Littles is a fluent reader, this was where we were floundering.

Another neighborhood youth has volunteered to come over one or more times a week and help out. He’s not only helping with things like keeping the yard in shape, and washing the car, but he is taking the Littles along and having them work with him – and learn how to do these necessary household tasks.

The small expenditure this entails has been easy enough to work into our budget.

All I had to do was admit that I needed help.


6 Responses to “Coming Out of the Closet with Chronic Illness”

  • Kim says:

    Hi Tiffany,
    After reading this message, please don’t be offended but I must ask are you still walking in faith. Yes, the medicine is giving a small amount of relief. Psalm 39:7-10 Please read because he wants to be your Lord, Savior and Healer (all and all). If you take the medicine he can’t be. I never have seen Jesus use medicine for healing in the scripture. Yes, he can but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.The choice (medicine or faith in Jesus) If it is His will you will live. Trust the Lord! Just ask for healing and wait. He will answer. By taking the medicine you are still not healed and yes I know you need to be able to take care of your daily responsibilities. Trust Him if he gives you grace it will be done. 2 Cor. 12:9.

    • JLewis says:

      David says is Psalm 119 “in faithfulness you have afflicted me”…Paul prayed 3 times that God would remove his thorn in the flesh and God did not…did Paul not have enough faith? No where in scripture does Jesus condemn or forbid the use of Doctors. Jesus says in Matthew 9:12 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” God gave us physicians by His grace.

  • CH says:

    I just want to say that the above commentor’s attitude is the very one that causes Christians to live in horrible depression and for some to end up committing suicide. It is a virus in the modern church that I have seen result in tragedy over and over again. Guilting a person with debilitating illness or horrible depression by using faith is what I consider spiritual abuse. God can heal you whether you take a pill (that helps, by the way) or not. He is bigger than ANYTHING or ANYONE. My God loves me and uses doctors and medicine ALL THE TIME to heal. Yes, there are no examples of this in the Bible but there was also very little life saving medicine then either. GOD LOVES TIFFANY and will work out His will in her life in spite of medications or maybe even using those medications. The God of the Bible worked in peoples’ lives in spite of personal shortcomings or faults, sickness, family life troubles and bad choices…he can certainly work through and in spite of antidepressants. I am a living breathing example…that type of medication saved my life…God did that! Please please be so careful how you speak to a suffering person in God’s name…His LOVE is so big and sometimes we box Him in.

  • Debbieo says:

    I’m surprised by the first comment. Paul wrote much of the New Testament , loved God dearly, but was never healed of his ailment Galatians 4:13, 2 Corinthians 12:7. Job loved God dearly but was stricken with many ailments read job. Jacob limped, genesis 32:25,31. Elisha the great profit died of a sickness, 2 kings 13:14. Timothy suffered from a sickness and was told by Paul to take wine as medication, (1 Timothy 5:23
    23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.)

  • Stacy Yates says:

    First of all I applaud you being able to ask for help. Many people want to help and sometimes they are unaware of the need or the help is refused. Since I personally know who you are :) , I would like to say anytime, day or night, that you need something, I will help you–getting stuff from the store, watching the younger kiddoes for a few hours or a weekend or whatever!

    Beyond that and on the subject of healing, I wrote a blog post a while back with the lyrics of the song “Even if” by Kutless
    ( which includes the lyrics:
    “Even if the healing doesn’t come
    And life falls apart
    And dreams are still undone
    You are God You are good
    Forever faithful One
    Even if the healing
    Even if the healing doesn’t come”

    I also worked through Laura Story’s devotional (
    after hearing her song “Blessings” and then later I had the opportunity to hear her speak. Her song lyrics ask:
    “What if your blessings come through raindrops,
    what if your healing comes through tears,
    what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?
    What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?”

    I also read the book “The Upside of Down: Finding Hope When it Hurts” by Joseph Stowell,
    which discusses reasons for a Christian to be going through hard times, and was very helpful.

    A week ago our sermon was also on Hebrews 12 and hardships being used to benefit us. It was so good I went as I usually do on Saturday night, but again Sunday morning because I needed to hear the message twice.


    Endure because others have (great cloud of witnesses) vs. 1
    Faithfulness = following God no matter the hardships until He changes it or even if He doesn’t.

    Endure because Jesus did vs. 2-3

    Endure because much of our hardship is God’s discipline.
    Ask “God, what are you doing to and through me?”

    Endure hardship as discipline–it may be caused by Satan or our own sin, but we can take it as discipline and let God use it.
    Hardship is proof that God loves you. If He loves you, why would he want to make life so easy you don’t need Him?
    God disciplines us for our benefit, so we can grow.
    Hardships create character that then brings blessings.
    God is willing to look bad to be good.

    Endure the right way vs. 14-17

    Endure because God is large and in charge vs. 25-29
    Hardship will change me and use me to change others too.

    I know that my struggles and the things I have faced in life have made me a different person than I was eight years ago before I got kids. ( I have no doubts that God has a purpose for everything and has used me, and will use me to help others.

    When you look at “Why do bad things happen to good people/Christians?”, I don’t think the answer is ever simple or that suggesting you are not saved or that the answer is your own sin is valid. It is like someone with no children giving parenting advice. Even when someone has their first, compliant baby and thinks they know how to do it, with the birth of the second or third child, they quickly sees that there is no magic formula that works for all. You think you have it worked out and the kid throws you for a loop. Ignore the ignorant, hold tight to your faith, and do what helps. And let me know if I can help you :)

  • Penny says:

    God uses doctors every single day. He uses them as an extension of his hand. He created man, he gave man the wisdom and the knowledge to find things to help people, in a million different ways. Because I go to the work/to the store do I not trust that he will provide for me? Of course not.

    Take your medicine if it helps and while you do, continue to pray for healing and that God would open the doctors eyes and reveal to them what is the root of the problem and that He would make it clear how they can help you. Others may choose to suffer in pain and pray for healing. You can choose to go to the doctor, that the good Lord provided for you, and continue pray for healing just the same.


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