Thursday, November 1, 2012

These Chronic Bitches Be Crazy (And The Healthy Ones Too)…*


There’s a rant I’ve been meaning to post for a long time.  It was in response to a completely awful comment that had been posted on a fellow blogger’s site.  But, for whatever reason, I never posted it.  So I’m going to go off on that rant, and then explain why it is particularly salient to me right now.

The comment was from a healthy person, which basically suggested that if the chronically ill person would just shut up and stop complaining, they would be cured.

We’ve all had our fair share of people who won’t believe everything we write, will offer snake oil cures, or will go as far as to say that our illnesses are created in our minds.  There are healthy people who will tell us to get over ourselves or offer advice when they really have no place in the conversation in the first place. 

But by virtue of blogging, we put it out there, and we run the risk of people reading it who just can’t possibly understand. 

You know, I’m the first to admit that I don’t always take stellar care of myself.  My diet isn’t always as balanced as it should be.  And there a host of other things.  But the bottom line is, the things that I could do better are not killing me. 

Self-blame is NOT the answer people.  I didn’t get lupus because I’m a bad person or because I did something to deserve it.  It happens.  Shit happens.  Things happen that we can’t explain or understand, but we have to deal with as best we can.  We have to go on living.

And these naysayers suggest that if we stopped being so self-absorbed, we’d be cured.  Yeah.  Uh huh.  Because so many of the chronically ill people I know love to wallow in self-pity.  NOT!

In my dreams, if I could be sick or healthy, of course I’d be healthy.  But if I was healthy, I’m not sure I’d be as compassionate and empathetic as I am (this post notwithstanding).

Seriously.  Go F*** Yourself.  

And when you get sick, and feel like shit physically and emotionally, don’t come crying to me. 

And when you get sick, it’s going to have nothing to do with being faint of character, right?  When it comes to you, it’s merely that the universe conspired against you.  Funny how that works.

I feel terrible for people like this because they are so ridiculously out of touch with reality.  They are the ones that have problems.  Not us.  One day they’ll be faced with something they never imagined, and they’ll shit their pants trying to figure out what to do about it. 

I have to believe these people weren’t born moronic.  They became it.  And then decided to pepper the world with their unwanted and unwarranted opinions.   

In fact, I think we chronically ill folk appreciate the hell out of life.  We don’t take the good days for granted.

And wow, what a wonderful life you live indeed when you have time to spew this crap. 

And I know, this is a bit the pot calling the kettle because I’m stooping to their level when I shouldn’t even engage.  But it’s hard not to.  And it’s not just for me.  It’s for all of my chronically ill blogger friends, because I know that none of us are immune to these kinds of people.

You know, a truly happy person wouldn’t take other people down.  Don’t they realize that their ignorance runs deep, and the things they say hurt and offend? 

However, I’ve discovered recently that there’s something worse than these idiots that read our blogs once and offer an opinion based on nothing more than their ignorant thoughts.  It’s mudslinging that comes from another chronically ill blogger.  In some ways, this is harder, I think, to take, than the crap that comes from the healthy, “well-meaning morons.” 

This is because they aren’t in our shoes and they can’t imagine being in our shoes and could never understand in less they were in our shoes.  And let’s be honest.  Most of us don’t wish illness on anyone. 

So when one chronically ill blogger rags on another one for seemingly no reason, it hurts a lot of us. 

And I’ll admit.  I’m a bit biased.  I really like ChronicBabe.  I’ve met Jenni in-person and she’s super cool. 

I’m not going to explicitly call the other person out here.  But I’ll link to Jenni’s response, and you can get the skinny on the situation (Are the qualities of a ChronicMom and of a ChronicBABE mutually exclusive?).  Or not.  It’s really not 100% important exactly what was said.  It’s what it intimated.  Basically the gist is that chronically ill moms are on a totally different level than chronically ill non-moms.

One thing that I find totally ridiculous about this comment is the fact that many women in our community want to have children and can’t, or struggle with trying to balance health and getting pregnant.  So what if ChronicBabe isn’t childless by choice?  And what if she is?  Basically this means that chronically ill women with children have it harder than chronically ill women without children.  This seems like faulty logic to me. 

As chronically ill women, we have shared experiences, regardless of illness type.  And it’s true that chronically ill moms may have unique challenges that women without children don’t have.  But I don’t think that chronically ill moms necessarily have it harder or worse than non-moms.  I think it’s a mistake to factionalize our community in this way.  It’s concerning to me.   

It’s one thing when there are rifts between chronically ill bloggers and the well-meaning, but ignorant, healthy people.  But it’s another for there to be rifts between one chronically ill blogger and another.

You know, I’m a student, and I think it would be easy to think that my life as a chronically ill person is more difficult than someone who is not a student.  But I can’t say that.  There is absolutely nothing based in reality that makes it so.

So why this need to compare suffering?  Why try and push the agenda that one person has it harder than the other?  I read a lot of blogs by people with chronic illnesses that have a wide range of conditions; diabetes, cystic fibrosis, cancer, colitis, and the list goes on and on.  I am sure there are some people who may feel that they have it harder.  Maybe they are terminal.  But whatever the case may be, more often than not, I find that what connects us is what we have in common rather than our differences. 

I’ve shared this story several times, but it’s something I’ll never forget, and seems appropriate once again.  I was getting steroid infusions and the girl next to me, who was maybe a few years older than me, was getting chemo.  I was new to the infusion room, so I didn’t know all the rules, and was trying to ask the nurse if it was okay for me to listen to my IPod.  The nurse didn’t hear me, but the girl next to me did.  And she said 10 words to me that I will always remember: “You do whatever you need to do to get through it.”  I looked at her, and thought, this girl has cancer, and she’s cheering me on.  But in that moment, in that infusion room, we were equals.  It didn’t matter what diseases we had or what was being pumped into us. 

And right around that same time, I started my blog.  And this is why I blog.  This is what keeps me writing.  It’s the experiences I shared with all of you, and you’ve shared with me.  It’s the encouragement that I receive, and hope that I offer to others.  It’s not the mudslinging.  It’s not the mean and negative comments by healthy people.  It’s everyone reading this right now, and those who have read my blog in the past, and those who will read my blog in the future.   

I know people won’t always agree with me, and that’s fine.  But I hope that the ties that bind us are stronger than the ones that don’t.   

When a healthy person attacks someone in our community, we spring into action.  We take the offending person to task, and we comfort the offended.  And I think the same rules apply when there is negative chronic-on-chronic action.  So I’m standing up for my friend, and hopefully for most chronic chicks out there when I say that we should celebrate our similarities, and acknowledge, but nicely, our differences.  A plurality of opinions in this community is important, as long as they remain respectful to others.  Words hurt.  But so does the absence of action.    

I guess the other thing is that as chronically ill people, we don’t have the market cornered on suffering.  A hurricane just pounded the East Coast.  Some people lost everything.  Illness isn’t the only bad thing that can happen in life.  I guess there is the old adage, “At least you have your health.”  But that’s really no consolation to those of us that don’t.  But the reality is, if we can’t relate to other chronically ill people, who can we relate to?          

* So I’d like to clarify, in case you had concerns, that this title is rather tongue-in-cheek. 

4 comments:

  1. Babe, I love you. Truly I do. What a compelling piece - and I appreciate your backing. Thank you! Big big hugs coming your way from Chicago, my friend! XO

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  2. So true! I have a chronic illness, I am childless and I don't have a husband. I have a huge respect to my friends who are parents, with or without chronic illness. But I have my own sets of challenges to face. Like: I have no one to help me if things go wrong, because the rest of my family lives far away. If I lost my job, I'd be in deep trouble. And since I have to hold a job and do all housekeeping on my own, I don't have energy left for social life.

    My mother is constantly bemoaning the fact that I am single. She is really scared that I will get older, sicker, and will have no one to take care of me. In her mind, if I had a husband and children, I would have have help and support when things went truly bad.

    It's not as simple as my mother thinks. But that's what the point is - we all have our own challenges to overcome, and it's not fair to compare suffering. We all do the best we can, in our individual circumstances, with our share of difficult choices.

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  3. I'm glad I read this - I have MS but even BIGGER than that... something that envelopes my whole soul - I know people want me to shut the f' up (sorry for my french but I'm being honest as they supposedly are.. I lost my wonderful 34 year old daughter three years ago and it's like ohhh, that topic AGAIN.

    YES, AGAIN. My world turned upside down.

    You said it wonderfully. I will always speak out against others who comment in such insensitive ways but it's hard for me to defend myself. Isn't that strange?

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  4. Those kind of comments are completely ignorant and the people who say them have in my experience, 9 times out of 10 are the ones who moan and complain to death when they have a common cold. A girl who once told me I needed to get out of the house, eat a good meal and stop moaning all the time because I am fine and really it's all in my head, came down with a common cold for about a week and literally all her twitter consisted of was things such as 'OMG I FEEL LIKE I'M DYING' 'I FEEL SO SO ILL' 'SOMEONE PLEASE BRING ME LOADS OF FOOD FILMS AND MAGAZINES I CAN'T COPE' etc etc.

    If that's how she reacts to a cold god help her if she spent some time in the shoes of the chronically ill, that's all I say.


    www.hayleyeszti.blogspot.com

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