My version of healthy included taking a daily birth control pill and drinking wine with meals and mixed drinks during after work socializing and networking functions. I mistakenly thought burying my past and living in anger in the present was a healthy way to live. I tailgated. I swore. I broke off friendships over the most minor of infractions. I worked 40-50 hour work weeks and forced myself to take on a full course load in college. I demanded people's attention, empathy, kudos and respect.
The pain of IC changed me. I lost part of my identity along with the diagnosis. Initially I thought that I had become less of a person. That I was now part of the 'others': the UNHEALTHY. I felt isolated and alone. All of the friends who loved my laugh and my wit and commiserating with me over drinks dropped away when IC rendered me unable to eat 'normally' or drink alcohol ever again. Family did not understand what I was dealing with. A college degree, once a proud badge of hard work (graduating cum laude, all while working full-time!) seemed pointless if I was now going to be a penniless chronic pain person. Pain was now my master and servant and friend and family. I bowed to the absurd while I slept next to the porcelain throne in between bouts of painful urination which happened 5-10 times an hour.
I lost my self-esteem, my self-worth and my job (due to a lay-off). I lost friends and estranged myself from most of my family relationships. I lost my sexual identity. I lost my slowly developing wine palette. So many things that were such a deep-rooted part of myself were all lost overnight.
But...then I found my way and slowly began the very long and painful healing process. Along the way I lost my anger and my pride and I gained so much more through lessons of severe pain and heartache. I have gained my voice and my strength and a discernment for supportive relationships. I have regained my self-esteem, my self-worth and I now have a new identity as a person living with a chronic pain disease. Like the saying goes: I might have IC, but it doesn't have me. I would not want to be the person that I was before IC. Some things are worth losing, after all.