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.

Cheers
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".

24 comments:

  1. Glad to have you back!
    I needed this tonight. I'm struggling with acceptance, and also with the many oh so brilliant ideas people have on how i should be handling my chronic illnesses.
    Sigh...
    Anyway, thanks for this

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    1. Glad it could help Alisha. I've seen this come up a lot lately both from those who aren't sick and those who are. It is really contentious for many, but I know for me it made things easier in the long run. :)

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  2. I have missed your posts. Hope you are OK. How was the Christmas alone?
    Great blog.

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    1. Hi Mary. Christmas alone was really good and I'm glad I had that time. I'd definitely do it again :)

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  3. Oh I love this post. Thank you so so much - it resonates with me, especially after the peddling of miracle cures and the email regarding some magic tablets that I received today.
    You are amazing.
    We do what works for us. And If happiness comes from acceptance, that's a good thing.

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    1. Good old magic tablets. Ugh. As you say we all do what works for us. What's the old saying: Accept the things you cannot change and change the things you can,and have the wisdom to know the difference. :)

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  4. Michelle,
    I can so relate to your post. I too, have several chronic illnesses and my daughter has dysautonomia to the tenth degree. Every single day brings a new set of challenges and sometimes she's too tired to fight. Those are the days we just listen and sometimes quietly keep her company. People are judgmental and will never understand until they have walked a mile in your shoes. You just have to keep on keepin' on. Chronic Illness is like living your life on a tightrope...trying to balance our health issues, minute by minute, day by day. Some days we just fall off and stay down until hope slaps us in the face and we get back up again.
    Love to you.
    Mary

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    1. It really is like a tightrope, I wish people would understand that. It is tiring when people are telling you how to live your illness. There's such a big difference to acute and chronic illness and when you are dealing with the long term, acceptance can help so much. xx

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  5. Love it :)

    I am still in "fight" mode because I can see better things, but I need help to get them, and so I fight in order to get the help that I need. Other than that though, I'm happy to just take it as it comes. Even the dying part, if that's the case (long story).

    I love that you call dysautonomia Bob. My stomach muscles separated, so I look pregnant even though I'm not, and I call my bump Annabell lmao.

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    1. "Annabell" love that. Fight mode definitely has it's place in the big scheme of things and it intermittently rears it's head for me too as sometimes you really need to dig your heels in to get the care you need. But for the most part that is short term for me and I go back to trying to concentrate on life (not always successfully I'll admit. :)

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  6. I loved this post, acceptance is a huge part of how I keep going. Lately, I've been thinking of CRPS as a little kid that whines a lot but sometimes has genuine issues that I have to deal with. As I wake up and the pain seeps in, I just think "Oh, that's just CRPS whinging" instead of "Oh, I'm sore", which is a tactic that I don't think I would have been able to use without having gotten to a place of reasonable acceptance.

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    1. That is a great way of thinking about it Hayley. I think that's part of why I named my illness at the start, not that I realised it at the time. I can say "Bob is being a temperamental pratt today" and move on for the most part. Makes life easier overall.

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  7. Love this! Love you! We will keep on keeping on one poop joke at a time.

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  8. Love this post! I also have Dysautonomia in general, with several different combinations to make life interesting. I can't say I am at acceptance yet, at least not full time, but I like to think it is the goal.
    Love your blog, you inspired me to write about life with my illnesses and incorporate the funnies of being a wife and mom of 4.
    Adore you!
    Carrie

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Carrie. I think we all move through phases of acceptance. There are still times where I get really angry or down about it all, but I would say 95% of the time I accept it. :)

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  9. I just wanted to say thank you. I needed to read this today. I am really good at looking at the bad side of things before realizing there is a good side. I was just complaining a second ago and after reading this i realised i haven't accepted my illness yet so...i am accepting it and moving on.
    steph

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    1. Ow wow Stephanie glad the post could help so much. I would say it is okay to complain too, we all definitely have the right to do that. I don't think acceptance negates the need to stamp our feet and pout on occasion :)

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  10. Odd as this may sound, I sometimes credit my difficult childhood (it was fraught with dysfunction, abuse, major family problems, etc) with the fact that I've always very quickly been able to accept whatever medical problems have come my way. I learned to accept my situation as a child and to strive to make sure that the life I created for myself was a complete 180 as I grew older. At six or seven years old, there might not have been much I could do to change the cards life had dealt me, but I learned to develop coping mechanisms, plan for the future, and find the good side of even the worst days. All of these same things ring true for life with chronic illnesses, and so in a very strange way, I'm grateful for my past because it helped me develop the skills needed to tackle the unforeseeable way my entire adult life (I became chronically ill with my first condition about a month after my 18th birthday) would be.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. I am so sorry you went through all that as a child Jessica but I definitely understand where you coming from. My childhood was less than stellar too and I don't look back with warm sentimental feelings, but you are right it does mean you develop skills you might never have had otherwise, or at least not so early on. You learn to cope and grow up early and that does make whatever comes your way easier to deal with in a way. Adversity definitly builds strength.
      Hugs
      Michelle :)

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  11. Michelle, I think you are awesome! A friend of a friend recently put up a link to one of your posts, and that is how I discovered your blog. When I read that particular post, I thought- "Whoa! Someone just took all my scattered thoughts about illness and put them into a beautifully written piece!" I was in a brain fogged moment and now can't find which post of yours that was, but. I have the symptoms of POTS plus a few other things, CFIDS, ME, adrenal burnout, lyme, etc. But, back to my original thought, your blog is a delight to read!

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  12. I love love love it when you get your strop on! Can't imagine what kind of mail you've been getting, but this socks it to 'em. Your blog is one of my favourite places to visit because you find ways to explain things we all struggle to express. Thanks for all the work you do to make your blog a great place to visit, Michelle. :-)

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    1. I get a lot of emails telling me what I'm doing wrong and how I should be conducting my life. Just happens. Most I just ignore, or if I'm really shitty I write a post ;)

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  13. Too right! I love this every time I read it <3
    Thanks for saying so very eloquently what so many of us feel

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All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx