Monday, September 7, 2009

Pitting One Illness Against Another

As I read the blogs of so many people affected by chronic illness, invisible or not, I find that although we all have so much in common, there seems to be a faction that tries to pit one illness against another. It's almost as though some people feel the need to claim that their situation, pain, symptoms, etc.. are worse than others and therefore more important.

The truth is we can all learn from one another and be a support to one another. I hate to see nasty infighting wasting peoples valuable energy. Why does it have to be a constant battle of who is more miserable? It seems to me that there is plenty of misery to go around.

The blogs (and people) I am drawn to are the ones who are passionate about helping themselves and others. While it is certainly admirable to raise awareness and even funds for medical research about your illness, you mustn't lose sight of the larger picture. Numbers vary, but there are at least 76.5 million people in the US suffering from chronic pain alone. If we band together we are much more likely to be heard by the mainstream and to bring about change that will affect all of our lives in a positive way.

In one way I am lucky, if you could call it that, because I suffer from multiple illnesses, so I am pretty much accepted by most groups. But if you have one illness or twenty, it is still frustrating, scary, painful and life-altering.

As we head into Chronic Illness Awareness Week and National Pain Awareness Month, let's try to put aside our differences and focus on all we share in common. We all would like for people to understand us better and what we live with on a daily basis. We all would like to see better health care that helps to prevent illness instead of just putting a band aid on a huge problem. We would all like to be treated with respect and dignity and to raise awareness. If we focus on the things we all share in common, we can accomplish so much good, and whether that good involves a "cure" for my particular illness or not, that's a legacy I want to be part of!


Renee said...

Good post, Maureen!!!

Nise' said...

Found my way over here via Stephanie's Written Word.

Well said! You would think that those who suffer would be more compassionate to others who do as well, but unfortunately it is like you say, some pit their illness against anothers. Most people don't know I have fibromyalgia, for that reason (among others).

Thank you for promoting Chronic Illness Awareness Week and National Pain Awareness Month.

Nicole said...

Suffering is suffering no matter what is from. I totally agree, we all need to ban together. I am also blogging for Invisible Illness Awareness Week and I have found myself really wanting to open up to more people about my migraine disease.

maria said...

I have to say "Thank You" for bringing to light something many of us with 'causes' forget - there is no clear winner when it comes to raising 'awareness', funds or getting the most followers and friends. In our individual campaigns, we seek to address a particular illness and have it be given the attention "it" deserves. What we fail to remember is that the $1 we get is $1 less that someone else gets for their 'cause'. We compete against each other for a small bucket of change these days -but there are ways to work around or with that.

While we wait for science and services to catch up with us, let's be here for each other now- no matter what banner we carry. Finding those common barriers, symptoms and stories strengthens what we are all really saying: "We are ill and we need safe, accessible options." We have a national health debate going on right now - let's not divide into camps, but unite instead, to become a more visible community.

Asking for funds is important and for tomorrow - asking to be heard and acknowledged is important,too, and gives us all a better today. As you mentioned, Maureen, we do have more in common than we differ...why do we really need to put so much focus there? What happened to the "chain is as strong as its weakest link?"

Maureen Hayes said...

Thanks to you all for your support. The more we can work together and understand each other, the more we can truly accomplish. It warms my heart to see that others recognize this and want to unite for the best of all, without abandoning your their support and advocacy for their own illness or illnesses.

Susanne Miller said...

God Bless, I've found this blog by following a network and this is by far the most heart-felt post I've read all morning.

It just breaks my heart to see such good people tormented by chronic illnesses :(

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

Well said. While I didn't know this type of infighting existed, it shouldn't surprise me as it is consistent with human nature. Thank you for reminding us that we are all in this together!

Jenny P said...

I like your post. In my (fairly new) blog, I'm trying to focus on a "hopeful" perspective for all chronic illness sufferers, too. I actually get uncomfortable when someone tries to compliment me by telling me their diagnosis but that "it's certainly not as bad as yours". While at the same time, I don't want them underestimating what I go through, I don't need to be ranked at all. Like you said, there's plenty of misery to go around, I'm happy to assume it's equally bad for each person in their own way, haha if you know what I mean. And once you factor in good days v. bad days with any illness, who can rank them anyway?!