The quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” by Plato is one of my favorite quotes for a variety of reasons. Throughout my illness, whenever I would compare myself to other people my mom would always tell me how you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. This was one of the truest statements I have ever heard. To someone who doesn’t know me very well, I seem like I have it all. When I finally came out and shared my struggle with ulcerative colitis to the world, I received not only an outpouring of love and support, but so many messages from people saying that they either had no idea that I had been sick, or that they knew I was sick but didn’t realize it actually impeded on my life.
When I “came out” on September 3rd of this year, I know most of the people who read my story were shocked. After all, how would anyone know what I was actually going through? Whenever anyone would see me, I always looked completely fine because you generally don’t see an IBD patient at their worst. I never let anyone besides my parents see me when I wasn’t doing well so I always looked and acted completely fine to the outside world. I also spent the majority of the past 12 years doing every single thing I could to keep what my body was going through hidden. I was embarrassed and ashamed. After all, talking about bathroom issues and ileostomies doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. I also so desperately wanted to be normal and because I had this enormous fear that if I divulged the details of my disease, I would be looked at as gross, I never did until recently.
The quote “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” by Plato was really ingrained in my head after I admitted myself into a psychiatric hospital last year. I became friends with a few people there who I really shared a lot of myself with and vice versa. You become close with people very quickly when you are in a position to share your inner most secrets and fears. I have kept in touch with some of the girls who were patients there with me and when I look through their facebook profiles and some of the other social media sites, I would literally be blown away to know that just a year ago, they were in a psychiatric hospital. They all seem to have wonderful families, supportive friends, be in loving relationships, etc. I would never have any idea that anything was ever wrong in their life.
We all have a public and private self as I have talked about in the post here http://keepingthingsinsideisbadformyhealth.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/private-vs-public-self/. The person we usually portray to the world is often different than who we are in the privacy of our own homes. Whenever my mind goes towards comparing myself to someone else’s life, I repeat this quote by Plato in my head over and over again. Everyone has issues. No one’s life is perfect. Just because a person’s problems are not blatantly obvious, or they always look and act fine, doesn’t mean that they aren’t dealing with something difficult or traumatic. We all need to be compassionate and gentle. We all need to be understanding. “Be nice to everyone you meet; they are fighting a battle you know nothing about.”