How often do we look at someone and make an assumption about them because of their appearance or because they suffer from a certain illness? How often do we put labels on people? If we know someone has cancer or multiple sclerosis or diabetes or any other multitude of illnesses, we often see the person as a sum of their symptoms as opposed to who that person really is. It’s easy to get caught up in the whole story without really seeing the smaller parts of it.
If you happen to meet a friend and learn she has cancer, do you change how you treat her? I presume you show how much you care about that person and offer them support but do you look at them differently when you next see them? What if another friend has diabetes and needs to give regular insulin injections to himself or has trouble walking because she has multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis?
Do you see each person as a collection of symptoms? It’s human nature that we sometimes do this. I, myself have been guilty of acting this way too. Many years ago, I knew a lady with Chronic fatigue/ Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. At the time I knew little about the illness and although I knew she was not well, I summed her up as doing very little with her life as she was always tired. I didn’t blame her for this but it wasn’t very nice of me, I know. I never really understood what she was coping with or how hard her life must have been and that she was a whole person with many interests and a personality I knew very little about. Very often we are so quick to judge before we have bothered to find out anything about the person.
I know that many people with an illness, don’t tell those they meet or work with about their condition and sometimes don’t even discuss it with their friends. We are all scared of being judged, being thought less of or being seen as weak.
But how then do WE see ourselves if others see us a certain way? Do we project that image out to the world? I’m not saying that it’s hard not to get caught up in whatever is affecting us as it is a huge part of our everyday life and can be all encompassing. But it’s important to remember that we are individuals with a personality and not just a label. We love nature, walking, the movies, dancing, singing, the gym, holidays, reading, photography, dancing, music, yoga, meditation, technology, travelling. We are gentle, caring, funny, serious, creative, studious or whacky souls. If we have an illness it is a part of us and is something that we have to deal with, but it should not define who we are.
Remember that each and every one of us is a precious being. We matter, even when we are not feeling our best. Yes we may have our bad days when we are feeling exhausted or ill or depressed or overwhelmed by it all, but those days are only a part of our lives. They do not depict the whole picture. Don’t let your illness define you. Don’t let it rule your life. It is a part of you but only a small part, for you are so very much more!
Ps. Let me know what you think. I would love your feedback.