Something I often wonder is when, if ever, I’ll be able to break out of that habit of trying to appease others over MY illness. I spend probably an unhealthily large chunk of my life telling people I’m ‘fine’ or implying that I’m much better than I am.
The truth is this is done 99% of the time because it’s easier. Although that does by no stretch of the imagination make it right.
Much as I talk about my illness, outside of blogging and writing I do like to try and maintain a ‘normal’ life. Something which I suppose is a goal I’m currently finding unattainable.
So where does the urge come from? This compulsion to make everyone from family and friends, to doctors, to colleagues I barely know, feel better about how I feel? And why?
I’m asked how I am but I still often find it borderline impossible to be honest. I think the key is the disappointment I receive. When I see frustration or upset flash across a loved one’s face, or even something resembling boredom from a relative stranger (‘you’re STILL ill?’) – It’s the feeling I’ve almost let someone down. My body failing is making me feel less like a social butterfly and more like an antisocial moth.
It’s important to remember the consequences of these actions however.
Denying the seriousness of your condition or dismissing how you feel as a triviality can have a much farther reaching impact than you may think. Telling your doctor you are ‘fine’ or playing down symptoms so as not to appear a ‘nuisance’ is the main issue: at the end of the day medical professionals are there to help you – they can’t do that without ALL the facts. You are a puzzle waiting to be solved, don’t expect Dr Columbo to be able to piece you together with vital clues missing. Tell them everything. Get over yourself if they look at you the wrong way, make snide comments or even YAWN directly in your face – rise above: that just makes them the ignoramus. How they react should never silence you to admitting your pain or fears. It may make it harder I grant you, but they’re not there to be your BFF.
Next, friends and family – I’m up there the worst offender for this one. I fall back into the ‘I’m fine!’ habit more than I cry at pictures of kittens in bowties (and that’s a LOT). I can’t speak for all of you of course, but for me it’s the sadness I can’t handle. The well-meaning titled head “awws” and the preceding 20 questions on why you aren’t better yet. All 20 of which I can never provide satisfactory answers to. Don’t get me wrong, I never discount the love and care of my friends and family as being an annoyance, I adore it and cherish them. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the love and support of everyone in my life: but sometimes it just exhausting being the one who has to give the bad news again and again. I don’t want to be the one who upsets people I love. That’s a natural reaction I reckon. Unless you have a heart of stone I suppose, and my heart beats for my loved ones, Jon Hamm and kittens in bow-ties.
But it’s comforting to know that if that heart had trouble beating, there are people in my vicinity who can help with that. People who are trained to put me back together again physically, and the people I love who are trained in getting me back together again mentally. None of them can heal me if I don’t show them my wounds. So I’m trying (again) to resolve not to say ‘I’m fine’ when I’m not, and to put my health before appeasing strangers. That’s more than fine as a place to start isn’t it?