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Hey Sicky, Stop Being a Victim!

There’s a pill for everything. From headaches and joint pain to hard-on dysfunctions and feeling low we got the chemicals for you! Not to say meds aren’t important. Sometimes they are necessary for many illnesses. But we can’t find total wellness in a pill bottle.

Wellness is ultimately a choice. Pills mostly deal with symptoms not causes. They make us feel well even if we aren’t truly well from something bugging us. Pills help manage blood pressure and depression but don’t cure either. Pills help manage some of the symptoms but not all of them. They don’t determine a healthy, happy life. There has to be something more. In other words, even though I am still on meds to deal with the chemical symptoms I can’t really control, I have plenty to do in order to live a healthy life.

In 12 step programs there is a line frequently read:

If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 58).

Sickness isn’t a crutch or an excuse for having what we might think is a crappy life or an exit strategy for being whining and mean jerks to others because we are sick. A jerk is a jerk whether well or sick. Before anything else we have to want wellness. That means taking responsibility and getting honest about what we are doing that doesn’t help our health. It means being willing to make often dramatic life changes.

Let’s face it. Most changes aren’t pleasant. Change can make us feel shitty before we feel good. So raptured by the misery of the present and fearful of an unknown future why do anything now? Won’t the crap we feel while changing just keep on feeling worse? Sure it might feel lousy now. The question is why?

Many chronically sick people tend toward the miserable in life. Looking at current pain as something durable and permanent the whole of life is a total pain. It seems easier to accept that life is going to be a painful mess rather than do something about it. Rather than live by “shit or get off the pot” the alternative to the chronically miserable is to shit and sit in it. What’s worse is they want everyone to look at them as if there is nothing they can do but sit in the stink and feces of their own self-pity.

If you really want to get well, what will you do to make that happen. The vending machine of drugs won’t do it for you. Want to lose weight? Eat better and burn some calories with exercise. Maybe you can hang out with healthy people. Want to stop drinking? Don’t hang out with as many drinkers and drink something else. Want to write that book? Write it and talk to other writers. We have a choice to be slaves to our illnesses or a free people who have chosen to become well and to do whatever it takes.

Life isn’t an entitlement it’s a blessing and a gift. Sometimes sick people don’t need our hugs and hand holding. They may need our unwillingness to accept that their life has to be so miserable on account of something out of their control. Wellness isn’t an entitlement or a right, it’s a choice.

Want to sit in that pile of your own dung and feel sorry for yourself even after you have been given the tools to make your life better? Fine. Call me when you’re ready to take action. Until then ask if Stephen Hawking feels like a victim of ALS until you wake up and get off your ass.

About Andrew Tatusko

Secularization, critical pedagogy, sometimes agnostic, politics, and a ton of running. Penn State is definitely not responsible for what I say.


2 thoughts on “Hey Sicky, Stop Being a Victim!

  1. How exactly is someone with a terminal disease supposed to choose to be well? I agree with some of your points but you paint with too broad a brush. You say that you must get at the root cause of symptoms, yet none of your suggestions for getting over self pity get to the root cause of the self pity (which is a symptom itself).

    Telling a person who is overweight to “eat better and exercise more” is laughable if you are not willing to work with the person to determine the root cause of why they overeat and don’t exercise. Do you really think overweight people are so stupid that they don’t know they need to eat better and exercise more?

    And if all alcoholics need to do is “[not] hang out with as many drinkers and drink something else”, why does Alcoholics Anonymous even exist? Surely it’s unnecessary – your solution is much simpler!

    I agree that their are people who wallow in self pity, but they need grace and love, not a lecture.

    Posted by Heretic Husband (@HereticHusband) | June 22, 2012, 6:25 AM
    • What I am thinking here isn’t a solution but a state of mind you need for the solution to work. AA wont work unless you are willing to work it. The point here is about willingness. What are you willing to change in your life in a pursuit of wellness? Before that, do you even want to be well?

      Posted by Drew Tatusko | June 22, 2012, 7:18 AM

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