Thursday, 25 May 2017

It's a Kind of Magic 

A few days ago, a horrific attack happened in Manchester. I don’t need to describe the events again as I’m sure you have all read about it in painful detail, and really, I don’t want to; it’s so greatly unpleasant and upsetting. Our threat level in the UK is currently ‘critical’ and although I know those are cold hard facts that I know to be true, it still feels as if we are watching this all unfold in a sort of live action movie. 

It’s almost too impossible to comprehend the level of depravity and evil some people are capable of, and practically on our own doorstep. 

What does come out of these tragedies is the resolute power of the human spirit. Its always so heartening to see people go above and beyond to help others in situations such as these, where really we act without thought for occasions we could never have prepared for. The way humans act when under extreme pressure, or in abject danger is almost overwhelming in its beauty sometimes. 

When these moments happen I wonder if I am a good person. I wonder what I would do if faced with someone in pain or in a situation where I had to act now or run. Of course I would like to think should a situation such as this arise I’d do everything and anything I could to help another person, but we never quite know do we? I wonder if I could be selfless and put the needs of others before my own. Its what I’ve been brought up to believe should be the case, despite years of adulthood being advised we should 'look after number one'.

Well looking after number one hasn’t gotten us very far thus far. Presidents' aside perhaps. 

Not to say I don’t care for myself as best I can, when I can, because I do and it's important to do so. But the idea that we should put ourselves first at every available opportunity grates on me. It's a common attitude and one which serves to alienate.

There are so many people in my life I care for; I love. I can’t even bear thinking about how it would feel if one of them was taken from me suddenly and without warning. It is the definition of incomprehensible.

Therefore I think I know deep down the way I'd act if faced with sudden tragedy - with bravery. Its what I aspire to at least. 

It's easy to write off our behaviour when we aren’t called upon to be ‘heroes’. We can shrug off the responsibility or guilt at feeling helpless as we perhaps are not in a physical position to help. 'I wasn't there, what can I do?' Etc. It’s easy to do/think such a thing. We all do it – make excuses to ourselves and others as to why we can’t help. 

But we can help one another. Every day. In even the teeniest of ways. 

We can simply treat one another with kindness and without judgment. 

We can utilise patience where normally we would act with frustration. 

We can complement one another where normally we may internalise jealousy. 

We can help one another by listening and being a physical and comforting presence instead of making others feel pressured and uncomfortable. 

We can do all those things with barely any effort at all because they are all within us. 

We don’t have to save lives to make a difference to someone’s life. 

(Unless of course you are currently performing a life-saving operation then please stop reading this and continue with your important work). 

We can make someone feel great just by being kind to them. That fact alone is so simple yet so effective it genuinely reduces me to happy tears. So when things are painful and hard in any area of our lives, let’s try and reach out to one another with kindness and compassion; it won’t solve any of the worlds greater problems, but it might just make life a little happier for those of us still lucky enough to be around. 

Love always, K ❤️


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Every-Body's Gotta Learn Sometimes

Something said to me in passing recently got me thinking about the general ‘outrage’ experienced almost daily in living with chronic illness.


Personally I’d say I’m a bit of an old hand at this ‘illness’ lark, so I’ve experienced my fair share of insensitive, thoughtless or just plain mean, comments linked to my condition.


The most recent of these was uttered by someone I am friendly with and who I respect and even like as a human being.


(Names withheld to protect identities/avoid them being chased down the street with flaming torches)


This person commented on my weight, and joked that I’m ‘lucky not to be unable to absorb food’. As if my incurable illness is some sort of fad diet that I use on occasions when I want to look Oscar ready.

My gut (pun always intended, don’t you know me at all?!) reaction here was of annoyance. Not outrage, just annoyance and frustration. I feebly tried to convey that it’s not something I consider to be ‘lucky’ to have, and that I am seriously ill. I mentioned that I would love to be able to enjoy food and be a steady healthy weight, but that all of that just came out sounding a little bitter and whiny. Perhaps because the original comment was not intended as a slight on me or my illness, but jokey ‘banter’ implying nothing more than that the joker would like to be a little slimmer. Was I overreacting? I’m sure both of us have different viewpoints on that because we both entered into the conversation with our own (wildly different) expectations.


Problem here though is that comments thrown out in jest often have ripples which cause much more damage than any original intention.


When sweeping comments are made it often serves to alienate people in one fluid motion. For example how did this particular person know I was happy with my weight? (For the record I’m not; I’d much rather be a little heavier, I’ve been this weight since I was 12 years old – it’s not ideal for a 33 year old woman). My weight also serves as a constant reminder that my health hasn’t improved. If I’m not putting any weight on I’m still not getting the nutrients and vitamins I need to help me reach my ultimate goal of NOT DYING.


In the early days of living with chronic illness I found myself in a state of constant simmering rage. I was angry at being stuck with this disease and all its off-shoots, and the smallest of insensitive comments would send  my mood stratospheric. Not good for my stress levels and certainly not good for my health in the short or long term. Nowadays I feel a little mellower. Don’t get me wrong I still feel that sharp desire to behead someone who mocks my afflictions, but that’s natural isn’t it?! That wholesome urge to kill ignorant strangers? ISNT IT??


I digress. My point here is that it’s important in amongst the slew of unkind and ignorant comments we hear, to listen for the ones where we can educate. It’s imperative we take stock and put out own health at the top of the conversational pecking order; is it really that vital that we bubble with rage at a colleague who says something we deem inappropriate for example? Can we respond in a way that doesn’t involve knives? All of these questions I try to consider now when someone says something that makes me feel vulnerable or frustrated in living with this illness.


The simple fact is people will always upset and frustrate us. We all do it to one another on a daily basis. But intention plays a huge part – we should always stunt ourselves from flying into a rage by taking a few seconds to question whether whatever was said was done out of malice, or cruelty. Was it ‘just a joke’ (albeit one at our expense) and do we really want to waste already lacking energy in diving headfirst into an argument about it?


Now when someone says something I find offensive I try to call it out. I tell someone if they’ve upset me, and I make sure I come from a place of love and education when I do it. I don’t tolerate what I don’t deem an acceptable way to discuss my condition. I try to face rudeness head on by meeting it with logic and not just unbridled emotion. It seems to be working for me because I haven’t murdered anyone in at least a month. A new personal best.


Ignorance is an opportunity for education, so I try my best to put my rage on the backburner and take it.

But if someone slams the door in my Mum’s face in a shopping centre, you better believe I WILL KILL AGAIN.