Thursday 17 January 2013

Acceptance is NOT Giving Up

I'm not quite sure how this is a difficult concept to wrap one's head around. But apparently it is right up there with understanding the finer details of particle physics for many. And when I say many, I primarily mean those who are not ill, yet are apparent experts in how to cope with your chronic illness. Though in fairness there are a small number of evangelical sickies who get mighty upset or feel you are betraying the sickiehood for not acting like everyday is the invasion of Normandy (gosh I get some fun emails). In either case, the idea that someone else should dictate/judge how you respond to illness, shits me no end. Especially, when I'm pretty happy with my life, health crap aside.

Now, if you want to don your camouflage gear and yell "CHARGE" at the start of each and every day, go for it. That's your right. We all manage illness in our own ways, and we are all in different head spaces when it comes dealing with the crapfest that is chronic illness. 

I've been there. I've rocked my fair share of spiffy armour. I've sat on my destrier's back, wielded my broadsword and charged at the fire-breathing dragon that is my broken body. It worked quite well for a while. But there came a point when the fight no longer served a purpose and instead became a burden. It's at this point I needed to re-evaluate my approach and weigh up what was and wasn't working.

If keeping up the fight 24/7 floats your boat, then keep on keeping on, I say. I'll send you my old armour in the post. It's a bit dinted and tarnished but I'm sure it'll buff up a treat. But what works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another. And my priorities are a tad different these days. That doesn't make either approach wrong or right. It's about finding what works for you and understanding that it's healthy to re-evaluate and challenge your beliefs.

I'm sick. I am sick today and I will be sick tomorrow. I will, in all likelihood, still be ill 20 years from now. I have been to see all the top specialists, I've been tested to the enth degree and tried more pills and potions than I can count. I have researched and pestered, and been a relentless pain in the arse to my many specialists. I've more than done my due diligence. And I now know where my health stands without a shadow of a doubt.

I manage my various infirmities with a combination of meds, diet, lifestyle changes, complimentary therapies and sarcasm. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I reserve the right to bitch and moan when it doesn't, but on the days it does, I make the most of life. Hell, even when it doesn't, I'll put on my Batman suit and make a fool of myself, because that's more fun than concentrating on the shiteness.

Chronic illness, or more to the point, chronic illnesses, are just part and parcel of my life. As the saying goes, sometimes "shit happens". I can rant and rage and waste time and energy on something that really couldn't give a crap about my efforts, or I can focus my limited reserves on living.

Acceptance is a dirty word for many. But I find it quite liberating. It gives me much needed balance, and I am certainly happier for it. It doesn't mean I've given up, in many ways it means the opposite. It means I have chosen to fight for me. And damn it, I'm worth it. 

I am more than my illnesses. I am more than just a perpetual fighting machine. Being happier in myself by removing that obsessive focus, means that I now deal better with my health challenges overall. 

For me acceptance takes away the power illness has over me. I accept it. I deal with it when necessary. Then, I move on. 

If you are ill, take whatever path works for you. If you're not sick please keep your opinions to yourself.

In either case, just don't mistake my acceptance for defeat. I am sicker now than I was 7 years ago, and yet I am happier. There is something in that.

Michelle :)

I love this song by the Rolling Stones. The lyrics resonated with me long before becoming ill, but take on a whole new meaning now.

"No you can't always get what you want.
But if you try sometime, you might just find
You get what you need".