This is just one example of hundreds of memes I see everyday. This particular kind of meme has one point. It’s intention is to be inspirational. I get that. My rational brain understands these are created to help those struggling when they are in a tough spot.
When I see them posted up in my support group, I feel a catch in my chest.
It’s gonna harder before it gets easier. But it will get better, you just gotta make it through the hard stuff first.
This is my beef with these kind of memes. For us chronics, there is nothing to “overcome” there is no end to our suffering. Sure, for some of it ebbs and flows… but there is no cure. If we just push long enough it won’t just stop. We can push until our palms are bloody. Hell, we all have fought and continue to fight it. It’s fruitless. Ask anyone in my support group they will tell you it’s pointless to fight it. We can fight and overcome the depression, the anxiety, the substance use and abuse, the sweet little cherries on top we get being a chronic.
“Making it through the hard stuff” is survival. It’s nothing to be proud or pious of.
It’s that pesky little line of wanting to be treated like the average Joe and celebrating victories, like waking up in the morning… showering… doing the dishes…
I feel like some of these mushy feel good things are inappropriate and dangerous for some in my position. Especially those who are new to my particular disease, or any newly diagnosed person. It’s dangerous because they may still believe they can “overcome” – they may still think they can push hard enough and “win”.
My disease is a one-way road. There are no exit ramps. No mile markers. It’s a fickle bitch.
The key with my disease isn’t believing you can overcome anything. The key is to understand all emotions are normal and OK. It’s ok to be really, really, really pissed off. It’s ok to be cry so hard you are nothing but a snotty pile. It’s ok to be OK too.
I have become very in-tune to my emotions. I feel the anger bubbling up and I welcome it. Because I know it has a place in this moment. I experience it. Process it. Then I put it back in my emotional basement. I am over trying to transform emotions… there will come a point in everyone’s life – chronic or not – when you too, will learn each and every emotion has a purpose.
I was, and still feel I am sometimes, stuck in an anger loop. Now that winter is approaching by disease works a bit differently. I will have three crappy days and then usually one or two fair ones, then a day or two of dizziness, and then another couple crappy days. So I get into my winter/anger/bitter loop. I fought against it for a long time.
Now I know it’s coming… no reason to fight it. Prepare for it.
It’s not necessarily that I am “in a better place” with my disease… it’s simply an evolutionary process. It’s this silly little dance I do with myself. Except I have two left feet, no sense of direction, and the song is stuck on repeat.
Moral of this story is to not be hard on yourself when you see gooey memes or have your well-meaning random family member tell you as long as you stay positive you will be OK. Because you won’t. Like the late and great Stella Young once said, “no matter how long you stare at a step of stairs, it won’t make it an elevator.”