Relationships with a catheter

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“I started to think ‘I can’t be loved, I’m too poorly. Who could love someone like this?’”

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Dating and relationships can be strange and complicated, with or without a disability or chronic illness. We as females, are natural over-thinkers and are a lot more open with our feelings and being vulnerable.

5 years ago this month, my serious 5-year long relationship ended. There were several factors into why the relationship broke down but when I look back, I can see that my chronic illness played a big part.

My health problems started when I was just 14, but things got much worse around the age of 23 when I had surgery for kidney stones. I would suffer daily with multiple symptoms; stomach pain, nausea, and severe lack of sleep, to name a few. I was working 40-50 hours a week doing 12 hours shifts, which made everything worse. I would come home from work and go straight to bed with a hot water bottle. I would be moody because I was so tired, and my days off would be spent at home because of the pain and nausea. Naturally, this put a strain on my relationship. I was medically gaslighted by many of the doctors and nurses I came into contact with. I was told I was a hypochondriac, and it was all for attention. Many people doubted me when I mentioned how poorly I was feeling and there must have been times when my ex-partner did too. We weren't living our life to the fullest because of my health and looking back, I know this was one of the reasons the relationship ended.

A few months after my relationship ended, I started seeing someone who I worked with. He had seen me at my worst and my best and knew how my symptoms affected my life, but this didn’t stop us from talking about a future together. After a while, the cracks started to show and eventually it all broke down. I’ll never forget the message I received from this person, “you’re too poorly. I can’t be with someone who is as ill as you, I don’t think I could cope”. I know this was an easy excuse for him, but it still hurt, as I cared about him a lot.

I started to think ‘I can’t be loved, I’m too poorly. Who could love someone like this?’

I haven’t had a relationship since, mainly due to my health and getting my catheter, I needed to focus on me. Whilst I’ve worked on me, I’ve thought about what I deserve from a relationship and a partner and how I should be treated. My life may be different but that doesn’t mean how I am treated should be any different from someone without a chronic illness.

Being chronically ill and more specifically, having a catheter, shouldn’t change the way you perceive love. Anyone who treats you in a negative way or views your health in a relationship in a negative way, simply doesn’t deserve you. Don’t blame yourself or your health for the breakdown of a relationship. Ultimately, the person who is worthy of you, wouldn’t allow that to get in the way. Your health will of course cause bumps along the way, but a strong relationship won’t allow those bumps to break the relationship. Great communication around everything, including your health, will help you work through difficult times.

While focussing on me, I found the most important relationship. The one I have with myself. Learning to love and accept myself the way I am, building my confidence and understanding how to talk to myself in positive ways are all part of the journey to being open to loving someone who accepts me as I am, who loves me freely and without doubt.

Remember, your health doesn’t define you as a person. Everything happens for a reason, and someone will come into your life when the time is right. But the most important thing until then is to remember that the love you have for yourself is the most important of all.

Love Tayla x

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by Tayla Collison- Childs