I’ve dealt with a wide range of chronic illnesses throughout my lifetime. My first started when I was merely 10 years old. One of the hardest things to deal with concerning being ill, has been for me to cope with others attitudes towards illness.
I am 50 years old now, and it is still hard for me not to internalize ignorant peoples notions of physical, and mental suffering.
After being told numerous times throughout the decades that there was nothing physically wrong with me, I began to doubt myself, and to question my sanity. Isn’t it sad how that can happen?
I’ve also been exposed to members of society that oversimplify health issues, and see them as ‘karmic’. Or by others that see illness as a symptom of some unexpressed emotional pain.
I wish that people were more sensitive, more thoughtful, and more empathetic. I can’t change them, though. All I can do, is remind myself that I did not choose to be ill, that I’ve done everything I can to heal, and that it isn’t my fault.
It’s hard enough to live with an incurable illness. It becomes 10 times harder, when I blame myself for being sick.
While I agree that there are some things that contribute to the severity of illness, I also know that the human body is extremely complicated. It can be compelling to try to use reason, or rely on simplistic answers to explain away suffering.
I think that it’s terrifying to most people that they could do everything ‘right’, and still die of breast cancer, or develop Alzheimer’s, or even be disabled in a car crash.
Life is full of unknowns. Anything can happen to any of us, no matter how kind, or enlightened, health conscious, or emotionally well-adjusted we are.
Part of being truly compassionate is recognizing this. We are all in the same boat. Being human is frequently a struggle. There are often few answers that are real and true. Understanding how little we do understand, and know, is part of what it is to be a mature and thoughtful person.
I wish that more people were aware of this.