To the healthy: This could be you

Okay, so stigma is rampant out there. I heard someone recently that said mental illness does not exist and we shouldn’t talk about it. And I have heard worse than that.

So to those healthy people out there:

Maybe you do nothing for your health and wellbeing.

Maybe you exercise. Eat right. Do all sorts of things to maintain your wellbeing.

And maybe you think that makes you immune to illness.

Maybe you think we did something to cause it in ourselves and if we just did More we would all be cured like a wave of a magical wand. Or that we are weak if we have a mental illness. Or we are lazy if we are disabled.

To the healthy: This could be you

Well, that is plain delusional. That is fear of death talking. Fear of illness. Fear of disability. You have that fear and just do not know it. You want to think you are immortal but you Know you are not.

But you know what is weird? No one keels over after a long healthy life from nothing at all. And we are not immortal until we all get robot bodies. So we will all get a chronic illness or a serious illness. Luck of the draw. That is life. Would I have loved to be in peak health until 120 and then die from a heart attack in my sleep after a long, glorious life? Sure. But not to be for the majority of us. Not that longevity cannot happen because we are living longer. But we will have things… go wonky with the body.

No one is immune. It is only natural. Unless, worse, we die from a tragic accident. So if we make it through without a fatal accident, then we will eventually get a chronic illness or mental illness or both.

And some of us get a running start

It just so happens, for many reasons and often genetics some of us get an illness early in the game. A child. A teenager. In their prime working years. And some of us become disabled from it. It is a horrible thing that we become disabled in our prime working years when we should be thriving, having a career, building up a retirement fund and all the things people do in their working years. Ours is halted. We cannot have ambitions like that anymore. And it hurts. The loss of a career always hurts. And we struggle with our identity because who are we without work?

And if you think exercise will save you then I should really mention the most common treatment for most illnesses is some form of exercise. Some of us exercised a lot before we became ill. So we exercise. Motion is the lotion. And we are not cured. It is beneficial to exercise in your life. It does do the body good in many, many ways. It is just that it cannot prevent everything. So I definitely recommend exercise for sure. It just isn’t a cure. And it will not prevent some things. But when you do get chronically ill, you should still do some sort of exercise. And sometimes that just means walking because that is all you can manage.

We take supplements. Specific diets. Alternative treatments. Medications. And many things to maintain our overall wellbeing and quality of life… as much as is possible. Tricky thing about it is that a) it does not cure you and b) it can take years or decades to find anything that helps even just a wee little bit and c) it is all out of pocket and our pockets are always empty. But if you think we do Nothing you are very wrong, we do so many things to help improve our quality of life. Likely more than you are doing being a healthy person. Because we Hope for Better.

So try not to be judgmental dicks about chronic ailments and people with disabilities (visible or invisible). You may very well be next and would you want people being dickish to you? Maybe so. I don’t personally like it. I am not talking to everyone, but you know who you are.

I once went to a training thing for work. Sat at a table where the staff at another location were griping about a co-worker who claimed to have ‘migraines’ and was such a slacker and faker because no one could have migraines all the time. So I educated them. I have chronic migraines. Treatment is very complex. It is extremely difficult for us to function at work (presenteeism) and yes we miss too many days (absenteeism). And, frankly, it is hell. And I made them understand this just doesn’t go away, best we can hope for is less frequent migraines or less intense migraines and so many meds do not work… we have to keep trying to find the one that Does work.

I know I was gossiped about as well. And it hurt. I was trying so hard with so much pain and no one could comprehend that.

You know my spouse was perfectly healthy and then in his 30’s… kidney cancer. Thankfully they caught it early and he only needed a piece chopped out. But then also… gastroparesis, which thankfully at this time is well managed.

I am more statistically abnormal:

  • Joint hypermobility syndrome as a kid… mostly joint pain
  • Fibromyalgia at 20
  • Chronic migraines at 20
  • Hypothyroidism at 30
  • Adult-onset asthma at 30
  • Major Depressive Disorder in 2005 and treated just a few short years ago
  • Vertigo issues starting sporadically since 2010 and now is every day, requiring a cane to get around.

Seems like a lot, but illnesses like to ‘cluster’ with comorbid conditions. The vertigo was the last straw that led to being totally incapable of working and having to go on disability, prior to that I tried to function, not well, but I tried.

Here are some stats on age and disability to give you an idea of the lottery of disability. 

May you be healthy and live to a 120 and die peacefully in your sleep. But I don’t think statistically that will happen. So I do hope you do not know what I live with every day until you are quite old and well beyond your working years. That is the best wish I can have for you. Because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

See other posts

6 things for the healthy to know about chronic illness

The measure we use for life

Invisible disability: good employers and bad employers

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