Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When the Chronic Illness Monster...is You

You know, many of us chronically ill/disabled folks complain about people who are inconsiderate/insulting/disbelieving/offensive/etc...And in many cases we are justified in calling out such behaviors and advocating for ourselves and others--we are not any less deserving of courtesy and respect than those who are healthy.

But on the flip side, we can also sometimes be at fault or inconsiderate and self absorbed--being chronically ill may make us more empathetic toward others, but it doesn't mean we're always "on" with it...and boy, have I heard or seen posts from some of us who consider themselves blameless when they say or do some ugly things, because "I'm so miserable, of course I'm b****y! What do people expect?"
Or who complain about people not making an effort to be in our lives...and don't notice the ones who were there quietly slipping away because WE didn't make an effort.

I'm not talking about an effort to meet expectations that our illness makes unrealistic; I'm talking about things like a text now and then to ask THEM how they are (none of that "but I'm worse off than they are!" crap. Of course we think they are if they're healthy...but don't we know damn well looks are deceiving? Everyone has some kind of struggle, and what they're dealing with may seem small to us, but it isn’t for them); a call to ask how something they're involved with went; an effort to get together on one of our "good" days, even it's only sitting on their couch.

I've been guilty of it recently--not being a good friend.
And worse, it was with my daughter, who has some health issues and an almost-4-year-old, but who has made more effort and time for me than I have over the last little while.

And it's so, so easy for us to put things off when we are struggling...that phone call you'll make tomorrow if you feel "better," that text you forgot to send today, that message on Facebook to the friend across the globe who is dealing with a problem, that attempt to reschedule plans you had to cancel with your family...that can wait another day, right? Because you feel just hideous right now and your depression is raging...one more day won't hurt.

But it CAN  hurt.
It hurts them. Especially if they are the ones who have given us unconditional support and we put them off like an unpleasant task because our bad day is priority...and they are the ones who always give us consideration on our bad days.

Our bad days are far more numerous than our "good" ones. How many do we continue to put off the things we don't feel up to?
People are not things to put off.
We think we know that...Of course they're important to
us.
But do they know it when we don't make sure to show it?

We always think there's time...until sometimes there isn't.

Luckily, I woke up and realized there might be more than just her being busy with her own life that was causing a distance between us...and that it might be me. And I asked. And she came over and bitched me out good. 

And instead of justifying it with an "I've been miserable and depressed for the last 3 months," I agreed that I was an inconsiderate b**** and had been a lousy mom and grandma...because I was.
No amount of being sick and depressed excuses it.

Luckily, she is probably more forgiving than I tend to be.
Luckily, nothing happened during that time that makes reconciliation impossible.
Luckily, I can see what a jerk I was to the people around me...the ones who care most. I can see that I adopted the "It's okay because I'm sick" mindset that I've always despised in others...and I can admit it to myself and those who I care about.

I've been a jerk.
Luckily, I have people who will tell me when I am one, because they are what keeps me real.

And last but not least, luckily she was okay with this being turned into a blog post, because hopefully it'll help keep someone else real.

Don't be that jerk because of your illness. It doesn't give you a free pass. It just makes you an unlikable ass.