Saturday, May 29, 2010

Chronic Illness: A New Perspective

A very common theme in the many blogs and comments from folks with Fibromyalgia and other, incurable, chronic pain conditions is that the illness takes their previous, normal life away.  

I've recognized this same observation in myself.  There was the old me from before all my Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain, and now the new me feels like much less the person I used to be.  I have mourned my previous life and tried to come to terms with having lost many abilities that I once took for granted.  As the t-shirt I'm wearing today states, I am "always tired, always in pain, always uncomfortable".

In addition to the personal changes that illness brings, patients of Fibromyalgia also have a very difficult time assimilating into a society that can't see this invisible illness.  They have expectations of us that we want to fulfill, but physically cannot.  When the expectations and misunderstandings come from family or close friends, they are especially difficult. 

In an effort to keep myself from becoming hopelessly depressed about my current state of health, I am going to try an experimental perspective change.
What if I were to think of myself, now, as someone with normal capabilities, and recognize those in the world who can do more than me as extraordinary individuals with much more strength, stamina, and speed than I do?  
I can call myself and all my fibromite friends the "normal" ones - ones who feel pain all the time, ones who have to rest frequently, ones who don't sleep well, ones who need to write reminders for everything down - we are the ones who are the regular, typical people of the world.  

All those other folks - the ones who can participate in sports, the ones who have energy, ones who feel refreshed after a great night's sleep, ones who breeze through tasks like vacuuming or even shopping - these are all super-athletes of the world.  Young or old, there are quite a few of these people who have extraordinary potential and can run circles around us "normal" folks.

If you suffer from a chronic illness, especially an invisible one like Fibromyalgia, try this idea on for size and let me know what you think of it.  You don't have to share it with those super people, but see if the perspective will help.  After all, it seems like more of the world is ill than not these days, doesn't it?  Perhaps ill people are the new normal.