When I started my “book” many years ago, I offered things I know like meditation techniques which were and are helpful for me, and I hoped, kind of for others. And I guess I’ll include those kinds of things in my blog in the future. But I feel there’s a tone sometimes in the “book” which makes it sound like I have all the answers. I don’t. I have been living with chronic illness for about 50 years, so I certainly have experience of which I’m willing to share. But ultimately, we all have to find our own way.
I don’t like spiritual or self-help books by people who think they have all the answers. It puts me off and makes me feel insecure somehow. I especially don’t like books by doctors or professionals that act like they know what you should do. There’s often good advice there to be sure, but they don’t know what it’s like to be chronically ill. Only we do.
So, I want to be really honest with this blog. I want to share my experiences and what has been helpful for me, in hopes it could be helpful to you. But there are no guarantees.
And now I’m going to jump into another topic: Death. How’s that for a topic? I think death feels more intimate when you suffer from chronic illness. It hangs out with you while you watch TV or garden or pet your cat, or when you eat Cheerios in the morning (or at midnight). Sometimes this feels scary and sometimes it feels like a gift. Sometimes we think of suicide, or at least I do. But I suspect I’m not the only one out there that does. But I also feel more connected with my body because I’m constantly needing to tune into it and attend to it. There’s an understanding too, by seeing how my body responds when, for example, I’m anxious, that it’s easy to see how the body deteriorates. I have developed an ulcer because of the many years of this intense anxiety. It doesn’t take much of a stretch of imagination to see how the body will eventually break down altogether. Maybe some of this understanding comes with age – I’m 64. But I think I’m more aware of death than other 64-year olds who have had little or no health problems. I look up from writing and see my cat Zoe washing herself methodically and my heart feels a soreness that is painful yet beautiful. I think if I took life for granted, I wouldn’t experience this so poignantly. I really do. So, in a way, awareness of death is a gift. So is chronic illness. And yet, if I’m honest, it doesn’t always feel that way.