A question eternally asked, and eternally unanswerable.

The question, of course, is “Why me?”

I have to say that this is one question it’s never occurred to me to ask. One might as well ask, with equal validity, “why not me?”.  It simply doesn’t matter. Shit, as our transatlantic cousins are wont to observe, happens.

I might as well ask why I’m shorter than average. Worrying about why I’m not tall (it’s my genes – my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather were small and, clearly, their genes are dominant – in fact I bear a strong resemblance to the latter, not least because we’re the only family members with facial hair), will not make me any taller – it’s therefore an irrelevance, and asking the question a waste of effort. Anyway, I don’t feel short – I’m the optimum size for being me!

Obsessing about why you have anything, be it freckles, red hair or anything else, is an exercise in futility. There’s another reason, too, why it’s seriously bad news. If any illness occupies your thoughts to the extent you think it’s appropriate to ask that question, you’re probably focusing on it to the point of, at least, minor obsession, and that’s never good. Not for the obvious, mental-health-related reasons, but because the more you focus on an illness, the worse it seems. This can be a particular problem for those of us who live alone.

However, I never think of the fact that I have ME/CFS, COPD, or heart failure,  other than when I’m writing about those things. That makes me more aware of them, and I feel worse. For example, writing about my heart condition invariably induces chest pain (and it has, briefly). Is it real, or is it psychosomatic? I have no idea.

Once I’ve gone on to another subject, or  switched to reading instead of writing, it fades into the background again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always peripherally aware I’m seriously ill but, like that mysterious squeak in the car, that no-one else can hear but you, its presence diminishes if I don’t focus on it, or find a distraction.

With chronic illness, and especially when dealing with pain, displacement activities (aka distractions),  are essential coping strategies. For me it’s reading, writing (but not about me**),  and listening to music. Others may lose themselves in DIY, knitting, needlework, or whatever. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you do something.

Sitting around with nothing in your head but your problems, and sliding into self-pity, is a recipe for disaster.

** Before someone says, “Yeah, you kinda do,” in fact I don’t write about the actuality of being ill at all, but the fuckuppery surrounding it, and the staggering level of medical negligence to which I’ve been subjected. You’ll look in vain for a “Poor me!” blog post.

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