Dear lovely humans who are probably less lumpy than I,
This morning I began to write this post and in a turn of brutal irony had to stop because I had to go to the emergency room…again. Thankfully this was my shortest visit I’ve ever had. Normally they last anywhere from 10 to 30 hours. I was there for only two, which was absolutely fantastic. What was less fantastic was the reason I went. While it’s somewhat unclear, I may have had an allergic reaction to my new anxiety medication, Lexapro (I wrote a whole post about how afraid I was of this very thing happening to me. You can about that here). I was so happy because after a few days of it making me tired, dizzy and nauseated each night, I finally started to adjust to it and I thought it was starting to help. That is, until I woke up with large lumps on my legs and a slightly swelling face. I was given a shot in my hip of an insane amount of Benadryl and was sent home to hibernate like the depressed, lumpy little bear I am.
Before this mini clusterfuck began, I was inspired to write this post by one thought that crosses my mind almost daily. While the exact wording often changes, it always has the same general idea behind it. “Did I do something to deserve my pain and sickness? Why couldn’t I just be like everyone else? Is this my fault?”
There’s two parts of this thought that need to be dissected, so put on some goggles and a lab coat, because we’re about to get messy! (Not really…I’ve just always wanted to say that).
Far too often those who are chronically ill try to understand why we were made the way we are. It’s a mystery as to why we must endure pain, sickness, hospitalizations, surgeries, ambulance rides and all the other severely unpleasant events that we go through as chronically ill people. Of course, the easiest way to understand “the why” is to assume that obviously, we did something terrible and this is our punishment. People are especially fond of the idea of Karma, the idea of “what comes around, goes around.” If you do something awful, something awful will come back to you.
The problem with this is basically everything. All too often the idea of Karma, especially by Westerners, is sorely misunderstood. Most people believe that this trade off is immediate; for example, a car cuts you off on the road, then gets cut off by someone else. That’s obviously Karma, right? Not really. In fact, if you Google Karma, the first thing you see is this:
As you can see, the magic Google machine tells us that Karma is the sum of our actions that will effect our future existences. I am starting to constantly remind myself that while I am a firm believer that people in this current existence are absolutely impacted by the positivity or negativity they put into their lives, the fact I did some shitty things as a child does not mean that I deserve to be sick now. It’s incredibly unfair and illogical of myself and others to blame me for my illnesses. My family frequently blamed me for everything I deal with, called me a burden, or even worse, thought I was faking everything. Not only do I think that no one deserves to go through what I do, (even people who I think are especially awful), but believing my illness is some sort of energetic punishment does nothing for my health.
If anything, it only worsens my depression and anxiety, makes me despise being sick even more, and worst of all, plants the seed in my head that maybe, just maybe, if I’m an extra good girl, I’ll magically be cured of my illness. Regardless of how good of a person I am, I am always going to have my illnesses, not because I’m deserving, but because I have them and they are incurable. Furthermore, people should never, ever be kind or good in order to receive a reward, whether they think that reward is admittance into heaven, the cure to their illness, or whatever else they desire most. People should be good because doing morally good things and helping other people is simply the right thing to do.
So now that we’ve discerned it isn’t Karma making chronically ill people and I sick, we’re left with the basis of the question, “why?” If it isn’t Karma, there must be some other reason. If there’s one thing I want more than being well, it’s to at least have answers. If I’m going to suffer, there better be a good fucking reason for it.
Unfortunately, there just isn’t. Since I was a child I’ve been craving an explanation; some way to make sense of the fact that my life has been mostly pain and struggle from the very start. Not only with my illnesses, but with my family, my friends, boyfriends, money- pretty much every part of my life is dysfunctional. I’m often discouraged by the fact that while I seem to to be working a hundred times harder than others around me, I’m only half as far. It makes my heart sink feeling like no matter how hard I fight I get nowhere, or only move an inch while those around me are light years ahead.
If anything, I might be able to blame part of my struggles on my abusive parents, and I can attribute much of my illness to a rotten mix of genes. But even after that, there is still so much left unexplained, and the truth is I may never have my answers. Regardless if you are religious or not, spiritual, scientific, or not sure where you are or what you believe in, no one has these answers. Some people may think they know the answers, but their opinions, no matter how hard they defend them or however loud they scream them, are still just that; opinions.
One thing I am 100% sure of is that regardless of who you are or what your diseases are, your illnesses are not your fault. Let me say it louder for the whole fucking universe to hear:
YOUR ILLNESSES ARE NOT YOUR FAULT.
While of course we should be as proactive and do what we can to live the best way possible with our conditions, we are only given so much control over our bodies. I check my blood pressure obsessively, drink tons of water, eat as much salt as I can, and do everything else that doctors tell me to do in order to control my hypotension. However, even with all that I put into action, I’m still going to pass out when my blood pressure gets too low, because I don’t always have a say in what my body does.
The best thing we can do as people who are chronically ill is control what we are able to to the best of our ability, and let go what we cannot. I tell people who aren’t sick how frustrating it is to not be able to trust my own brain and body sometimes, because again, I don’t have much control over most of my illnesses. Most people don’t understand what that’s like, and I certainly don’t wish illness on any healthy person, but it is absolutely true that to some degree I am at the mercy of my illnesses. If I try to control more than I actually can, I will be driven insane and become more unwell. We have to let go what we cannot control. Easier said than done, of course, but most facts of life are kind of ridiculous that way. We must stop blaming ourselves for the fact that we never got a say as to how our health turned out.
I can’t speak for the past life Eleanores (or is it Eleanori?), but this current one is trying to make the best of her life, even will all 15 of her diagnoses and even with every bullshit struggle that comes speeding her way. She also doesn’t like writing in third person very much, but she found it necessary just this once.
Now you wait for something to cure this,
Well I’m here, under your downpour.
It’s not your fault so please stop your crying now.