Friday, March 4, 2011

For Better or For Worse

Perhaps before I was born, some sort of cosmic meeting took place where my life events were decided. Maybe it was like throwing a dice or hitting a piƱata blindfolded, that my life was destined by something much bigger than myself.

In many ways, having IBD is like getting married, especially the ‘for better or for worse’ segment. It’s ‘til death do us part, in sickness and in health. But there’s one minor (or rather major) issue with this metaphor – I didn’t sign up for it, didn’t say yes, and (most importantly) did not receive a diamond ring for my years of bathroom visits.

When the very thing that’s making you sick is yourself, it can be hard to differentiate your own being from your attacking immune system. Being angry at having Crohn’s often times leaves you angry at yourself.

And then the simplistic comments begin to flow from medical personnel and family and friends – “Everything happens for a reason” or “You’re only given what you can carry” or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. I deeply resent these colloquial phrases, because on some level, they suggest that a) we’re physically sick because we’re not mentally strong enough b) that we should be grateful for our suffering since it leads to the ‘profound’ c) that we’re weak people if we complain d) our suffering is meaningless if it’s just part of a random plan, and e) that we have some innate power to heal ourselves, but can’t.

Evolutionary psychologists try to see the world through Darwin’s tinted glasses. They speculate that depression was advantageous because it allowed cave girls and boys to lie low when there was a threat, aka tweaked their behavior for their survival. But then the world changed, and descendants of cave people no longer needed to rely of fire for warmth or hunting for food. But the point is that somewhere at sometime, many things were beneficial for us to have, but now that the universe is totally different, we’re saddled with more problems than blessings.

I would be lying if I said I’d never asked “why me” or cried about having IBD or wanted to break any dish in sight. Just as much as we are not our bodies - we ourselves are not sick, bad, broken people - we are nonetheless seemingly trapped and confined to our diseased bodies. And that can be infuriating to say the very least.

I didn’t get a choice to have IBD. Nobody did. But I do have a choice to pick myself up and persist in living my life. And so, I take thee, IBD, to be my chronic disease. To have and to endure, in more sickness than in health, for good days or bad days, and I promise my determination to use my voice and my heart to find a cure.


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