A Special Kind of Awful

It seems every time I come back here I need to apologize for my long absence. I often mean to write something, but am then overcome with self-doubt. Is there any value in putting my voice out there? There is already so much noise, so many competing issues and perspectives that my own life seems to shrink in comparison. Then there is the fact that I have long ago given up on writing about the original theme of this blog because frankly, I’m often too tired to cook.

So this blog has become a sort of chronicle of the chronic (illness). I have mixed feelings about this. When I’m in an active flare I tend to scour the Internet for illness narratives that are similar to my own. I then have the pleasure of yelling, “me too! me too!” to a disembodied voice. I’m not really sure how helpful this is. It can be comforting to know that there are other people out there dealing with the same thing, but it does take me out of the business of living my own life. Then of course there are a myriad of blogs and wellness sites offering really time-consuming and/or expensive health advice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in alternative medicine and have integrated much into managing my illness, but I’ve given up on boundless energy and living to 120.

Not everyone has good health and for most of us life is punctuated by illness be it brief or chronic. I think as a society we used to understand this better. Technology, heroic medicine, and rabid capitalism are perhaps to blame for this forgotten wisdom. I am so incredibly grateful and privileged to have the support system I have for the simple fact that I can rest when I’m sick. Right now I’m feeling a very special sort of awful, but I will rest and it will pass. Many people don’t have that privilege and my sense is that those of us who do feel a lot of guilt and shame about not being as productive. We must produce and consume lest we be a burden to society at large. That is pretty shitty. It isn’t the kind of society I want to live in. It isn’t even necessary. I can hear my more conservative friends groaning about people abusing welfare and disability and siphoning up all of their oxygen. Perhaps I’m naïve, but my sense is that when you allow people to truly heal or accommodate for their illness then they tend to be more productive. I know that when I feel well the last thing I want to do is sit around motionless sucking everyone dry like a Lyme infested tic. Pardon my sarcasm, but the rhetoric surrounding government support is often cruel and dehumanizing and I find it very troubling.

I am rambling a bit. I suppose what I am trying to say is that illness narratives can be helpful, self-care is important, but I also think there is value in moving beyond an individual management of illness. At some point perhaps for reasons beyond your control or for reasons that are really in our collective control, you will get sick. Your body will bear the weight of illness and feel weary. Don’t forget that. Advertising will try to tell you otherwise, but you really can’t run away from your humanness.

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