This is my illness
I know what my illness is and it’s not what anyone else says or thinks it might be. This is my illness: I hear and see it as I move silently about the house, alone. It is not in what I do or say or how I act or react to other people. Everything is as it should be. I am exactly as I should be. The illness is in my head. It is what I am saying to myself. It is the tyranny of my thoughts. I am not saying no one else has this tyranny (although that is one thing I might say to myself, as part of the tyranny). Yet by definition I suppose I am saying that, in that illness is by its very nature an aberration, a deviation from the norm (normality being health). So, there is something in my thoughts that is making me feel uncomfortable (well, unwell). I am not saying that I have pinned it down to a cognitive error (irrational thinking, as the behaviourists would say) or that I have somehow found myself as the ‘Observing I’ apart from the ego, as the Buddhists would have it. I have at times tried these mantles on. I recognise that certain things fit – perhaps my boundaries could be stronger, and my self-esteem greater, as the co-dependents point out. Perhaps my life could, should, would be better if I had been able to do it differently which, I was patently unable to do, or else, obviously, I would have. It has been interesting to think about why I may have turned out the way I have, and it is with great heavy-heartedness that I have considered my anger at my poor mother. I have done a thorough job on all these things. But this is not my illness. My illness, as I see it, and as it gives me great peace to see it, is this: a simple mistake, a mild short-sightedness, a momentary (and sometimes prolonged) inability to accept that there is no problem. My illness is an inability to see that I am not ill. So, I spend a lot of time ruminating about the things that bother me (in the sense of making me uncomfortable, by causing unpleasant emotion, which I feel in my body, as one does the flu). This very act of rumination is, thanks to its content, flu-like: it provokes most horrible symptoms in me. See, there, I am ill. It happened as surely and swiftly as a virus taking hold of my cells. There is some struggle (I try to do battle with my thoughts using cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation and co-dependent literature) but as with any flu, this struggle is futile. All the honest (infuriating) doctors will tell you, take two Aspirin and go to bed. Seldom do they add, these days, and call me in the morning. Do not call me. Call me to tell me what, that you feel better? That you feel worse and you are, in fact, afraid that you will die? (Now there’s a whole other subject for discussion). No. Do not call me. Recognise that you are ill – that you have fallen ill. As I move about the house, thinking about all the things that worry me and give me pain, I have pain, and I fall ill. There is nothing to do but take those Aspirin and go to bed. Do not call me. Do not call anyone. Just say, ‘Ah’ yes, this is my illness. I wish you all the greatest of health.