There is an infuriating tendency on Twitter for people to say things like “I have a life-changing, painful and disabling, potentially fatal, illness, but it’s not really me,” or “Hey, I’m totally happy that I’m so ill I’m confined to one room!” Or one that seriously pissed me off late last night, and I paraphrase because I can’t recall the exact words and, on Twitter, it’s impossible to look stuff up “ If your life is shit, it’s your own fault for doing it wrong,”
Such sentiments, in all their apparently infinite variations and expressed by people who are, apparently, sick and disabled, tell me one of two things – either the people involved are trying desperately hard to convince themselves that their lives haven’t fallen to pieces, or they are utterly self-deluded and believe what they say.
In either case, such opinions are best kept to themselves, as they upset and anger a hell of a lot of people who are only too aware of how much damage illness has done to their lives, as I know only too well, as my life has come down to one room (well, three if you count the kitchen and bathroom), and I’m fully aware of how dismally grim that is.
I don’t, though, get the urge to go on Twitter, single these people out, and say “Hey, you deluded numpty – your lives really are pathetically crappy – take a close look and get real, ffs!” Shattering their illusions – if, for one moment, they believed me – would be too cruel, because many people have devised coping stratagems to enable them to deal with how intolerable their lives have become, and if that means they’ve convinced themselves that they’re happy, or less ill than they are, fine for them. Who am I to burst their bubble?
But aren’t they being equally cruel, telling people whose lives have been all but destroyed how happy they could be if only they changed the way they thought? In my view, yes, they are. If they went up to a disabled person in the street and said, “Hey, changing the way you think could make your life a whole lot better!” it would probably get them beaten to the ground with a crutch. Which is probably why they do it on Twitter instead.
But late last night, finally provoked into responding, I posted a tweet saying:-
“@rantsfromron: I think I might very well shoot the next puerile twat who tweets to the effect that if your life is shit, it’s your own fault. Fuckwads!”
That got me a couple of favourable responses. I’d expected more, but it was late.
I know too many people whose lives have been wrecked by illness to swallow the happy-clappy, positive thinking bullshit for one moment, and some of those people live lives that are not just limited to one room, but to one bed. Telling such people that they could be happy if they only thought differently frankly beggars belief.
It’s as crackers as the idea that “god” doesn’t inflict on us anything we can’t cope with, or the equally lunatic concept of suffering being, in some undefined way, good for us – try telling that to someone who has to fight for every breath, and whose life is a constant battle against increasing, and terminal, disability and pain that is frequently so overwhelming that the idea of just pulling the plug has to be resisted every hour of every day.
If believing you’re not as ill as you actually are works for you, and enables you to get through the day, I’m very happy for you but, please, accept that telling the rest of us that we’re doing it wrong, and that the only way is your way, is a deeply flawed idea, and mind your own damned business.
None of us want to be chronically sick and disabled, and we really don’t want to hear that it’s our own fault our lives are so grim because we don’t “think right” – that really is an obscenity straight out of the diseased mind of Iain Duncan Smith – when in reality the crappiness of our lives is caused by conditions and events that are totally outside our control, and not helped by the fact that Iain Duncan Smith’s punitive, it’s-a-crime-to-be-disabled policies could reduce any of us to homeless penury at the drop of a hat.
That’s the reality.
A note for the hard of thinking:-
I am not for one moment saying that those of us in the chronically sick and disabled community spend our lives wallowing in misery (though, inevitably, a few do, human nature being what it is, and if that helps them cope, so be it). What I am saying is that most of us recognise and accept the severity of our many and various conditions, whether they be mental** or physical, and just get on with our lives the best way we can, rather than try to delude ourselves that they don’t impact upon us as much as they actually do.
**Mental illness can be every bit as disabling as physical illness. The fact that you can’t see it doesn’t change that.