|On the trail: where I would like to be sometime soon|
Daniel Mendaker, in his blog Organ Recital suggests some of the reasons why this would be: "we generally have more medical problems as we age...we may have little else to talk about...it may reduce our anxiety." I think that Mendaker's grasp of the situation is excellent.
Over the last seven months that I have been dealing with a leg problem and I have been saying, "Why me?" embarrassingly often. When I ask this question, I sometimes wonder what I am actually asking. Does it mean that I would prefer my problems were happening to someone else instead? Or, does it mean that since I am such a "special" person and try so hard--blah, blah, blah--that I don't deserve this discomfort and pain? In truth, the question is really entirely about me and my discomfort, it's not a wish that it was happening to someone else.
Mendaker continues, "'Why me?' is a plea for a reason for our illness." Talking about our illnesses "is a form of exerting control and a semblance of rationality over events that are essentially just random bad luck."
I am not in total agreement with Mendaker's statement because I believe that many illnesses are attributable to lifestyle choices--not just bad luck. The preponderance of studies have linked smoking with an increase in the incidence of lung cancer; obesity has been linked with diabetes and various heart diseases. However, we are all aware of cases of cancer among those who have never smoked (or been around smokers) and of diabetes in those who are quite fit.
Notwithstanding my exception to Mendaker's comments, I find his article meaningful in important ways. He "gets it" that being in pain is one thing, feeling abandoned by the universe is another. Without discounting the physical side of things, I know that working on the psychological front is immensely important..
For me, the not knowing what is happening to me has been at least as hard to deal with as the physical aspect. I want answers: what is wrong with me? what caused it? will it go away--and if so, what will make it go away? how long will it continue? The fact that I get different answers from a number of professionals is disconcerting to say the least. Yes, I want control!
Intellectually, we know that we can't control everything, but science has forwarded a lot of information about the mind-body connection. While it is not so simple a connection that we can state that people always cause (or cure) their own illnesses, it appears that it is beneficial to act as though we can affect our health by guiding our thoughts and actions in positive directions.
I think it is inevitable that anyone with an problem (health or other) will be asking as the title of "Why bad things happen to good people?" wonders. The next step is dealing with the anxiety that arises. In my quest to stay sane, I am trying to do the following, which I offer in the hope that you will find them helpful.
- talk about the injury, but don't dwell. Move on!
- pursue other interests--especially new ones
- try for normalcy--get dressed, eat well, chat with friends
- find some volunteer work
- notice the positive
- keep a gratitude journal; find a gratitude partner
- do relaxation exercises (others recommend meditation or similar)
- and walk!
Any other suggestions?