To the best friend I can’t get rid of: I know that whatever I do, you will always be there for me.
When I was five years old my parents introduced me to my younger brother, and only sibling, for the first time.
I was horrified.
I thought I was safe. I thought I was destined to be an only child. Then my parents sucker-punched me with a sibling, and a little brother at that!
I just wanted him to disappear but my parents insisted on bringing him home from the hospital.
It is a relationship that has provided me with as much grief as it has pleasure. As much love as it has pain.
It was clear from day one just how different we were: I was quiet; he was loud. I was a homebody; he was a party boy. I studied hard to get good grades; he had a naturally high IQ and rarely needed to crack open a textbook. I could take him down a peg or two with words; he could even the score with a punch.
Our whole childhood and adolescence was a classic sibling love/hate relationship and power struggle as we attempted to outwit, outlast and outplay each other. There were times when I could have willingly strangled him, as I’m sure he me.
It only took the better part of 24 years and a couple of chronic illness diagnoses for us to grow up and realise that we actually do like each other.
Now we are siblings and superheroes in arms; bonded by our invisible fights and now mutual admiration and respect for each other.
Our diagnoses may be different – me with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, he with Ulcerative Colitis – but our journeys’ and challenges are similar.
Illness has revealed us to share many characteristics; we aren’t as chalk and cheese as we once thought. Tough as nails, with ironclad wills, we are both determined to make the best of life’s draw cards.
To look at how far my brother has come is so rewarding to see. Seeing him struggle through the lowest points in his life with his illness to keep moving forward, working through the adversity and obstacles that keep being thrown in his way, for me that’s just an unreal role model in my life.
Can you imagine a condition so severe and debilitating that it robbed the better part of the last two years of his life?
Can you imagine trying to explain to people that you need the bathroom up to 30 times a day; that you can’t go out for a meal; that you need to carefully map out your driving route (if you can even get out of the house) based on bathroom availability?
Can you imagine the constant fear and anxiety that takes over your head at the possibility of being caught short somewhere?
My brother can. This is the world he lives in.
And yet in spite of all this, he somehow finds the inner strength and willpower to pick himself up day after day and keep fighting the good fight.
That’s human spirit right there for you. The Warrior roars loudly within.
I draw strength from this incredible human and was so proud when he said he would stand up in support of Invisible Illness Awareness with me.
So here we are:
Brother and Sister, separated by time and geographic distance, united in a display of sibling strength and support, breaking the silence and stigma that surrounds invisible illness to show the world our #InvisibleFight.
Watch out world we’re coming for you!
Please support Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2015 (September 28th – October 4th) by sharing this post using the hashtags #IIWK15, #InvisibleFight or #SufferingtheSilence. Thank you!
All photos and content the property of Starbrite Warrior and Bree Hogan