Everyone has heard it before, from the time we were tiny. Always think about others before yourself. Let the other person go first in the elevator. Let the guest have the bigger piece of cake. It's just one of those things you learn to accept because you want to be a decent member of society, and not a jerk, (well I can't speak for everyone, but I hope I can for everyone who would be reading this.) But when you're chronically ill, you're constantly being labeled that you're an "attention hog" or you're accused of "faking it". But the reality for "sickies" is we can't be of any help to other people unless we take care of ourselves, and this is just an anomaly that very few can understand because just the opposite is ingrained into our head from the time we are 4 years old. It's not because we are rude, or an attention hog that we do these things. The truth is we deal with so many "other things" every day in addition to everything you deal with. We have to deal with (Now I don't know about every chronically ill person in this world this is just what I deal with)pills, loads of them, meds cases, and not spilling your pills all over the floor which I have done, in the not greatest of places...getting enough sleep, appointments OMG appointments and then I have to worry about that ever worsening thing in my body called chronic pain, that gets worse with every surgery, every time I brush my hair and further infuriate a few hundred thousand already really pissed off nerves. Every second of every day I'm reminded that I will never measure up to everyone else, because of something I never wanted in the first place. My parents find it somewhat strange that I enjoy spending time by myself, YES this is because when I'm by myself, I have no one to compare myself to, no one to show me what I could be doing if I never got sick. When I'm by myself, I can trick my mind into thinking that none of this exists...
I know a lot of you will think, "OK you're somewhat selfish, yeah me too every once and a while," but it's actually far from selfish. When you do good for yourself, you can then do more for other people. I love analogies, and so I will say it in an analogy. You know how in an airplane, they say when they're telling you about the masks, you have to put yours on and then you can help your children? I never understood this until now. I used to think, "Why would I think of myself before I helped my child(ren)? My pride and joy? I would want them to live instead of myself... But then I thought about it. Only when you are at your best can you be expected to give your best to other people. And when you think of it this way, that whole situation makes perfect sense right? You need to be perfectly healthy and able to breathe before you can extend your help to help someone else breathe with ease. These are all subjects that no one talks about, because who wants to sit around the dinner table and talk about something this depressive? But in reality, as much as I hate talking about it, it's something that needs to be talked about otherwise, you're just adding fuel to the fire of resentment, and confusion.
A lot of friends don't seem to understand the unpredictability of chronic illness. Yes you can be fine one day and then can't get out of bed the next. And this is all day every day for us. I said this in a past post, the inability to predict your life from second to second would annoy the crap out of every single one of you, this is every second of every day for a chronically ill person. But I know it's sort of cliche to say it, and more than half the time you probably won't even believe me, but you really do get used to it, not because you've accepted it or you're letting it win, it's for the sheer reason that it would make you go crazy if you didn't just accept it, because for a lot of us this is never going to go away, and I can tell you, I probably would have hurt myself a long time ago, if I didn't just tell myself, OK this is your life now, and you have to accept it. But don't think I just said this and it happened. Oh no, it was a long time, but I was sick of being so upset, I would just make myself sicker, and I just said, you can keep making yourself sicker, or you can begin to realize the reality of your illness. Everyone always has this, "Oh you're so inspirational"affect when they're with me, and I do appreciate it but I'm really not, you have no idea of the freak outs I've had behind closed doors, and I think it's natural to do this. It's natural to mourn your previous self. It's natural to wish for it back.
So it all comes down to which risks you are going to take. Are you going to go out with friends knowing that you may pay for it later, and I don't mean by lying on the couch watching tv, I mean by being in bed, with the curtains drawn in so much pain you can't look into the light without throwing up. I've been there, does it mean I would take it back? Not necessarily. If your life were to vary from minute to minute after being as close to picture perfect for 15 years, what would you do? I think I can speak for every chronically ill person out there when I say, all we want to do is get better. We all want to have what you have. But for a lot of us moving forward, also means the same thing as moving backwards or staying in the same place. And I hear it all the time, "Oh your pain can't be that bad right"? And the answer is No it's Not that bad, it's much worse...So if it were you? How selfish would you be willing to be?