We all see them, the chronically ill who are living amazing lives, even doing things above and beyond what most “normals” do. They don’t let their illnesses stop them. They thrive despite their illness. These people are supposed to be an inspiration. We are to be amazed and we’re supposed to look at them and realize, “Hey, if they can do it so can I.” (does that really work?)
There always seems to be a celebrity who has the same disease you do. As a spokesperson for our illness they are supposed to be an inspiration, after all, if they can do it, why can’t I?
Do they really inspire you? Does it give you hope? Or does it make you feel inadequate? Does it make you feel bad because you haven’t been able to do what “normals” would define as remarkable things in spite of our illness.
For me, it’s often the later. I feel inadequate because I simply cannot do the things I used to, let alone do extraordinary things that I’ve never even thought of doing.
It concerns me that people will compare me to those “inspiring” people and think that I’m exaggerating the severity of my symptoms. I’ve had well-intentioned friends and family members send me articles about someone who has Meniere’s Disease and how they are are either living amazing lives despite Meniere’s, or they were “cured”. This happened a lot when Dana White (president of the United Fighting Championship), underwent a treatment for his Meniere’s and it was a “miracle cure”. What they don’t realize is that there is more than one cause of Meniere’s, so his treatment may do nothing for me; he has Meniere’s in one ear, I have it in both. They also seem to ignore the fact that he had to go to Germany to have this procedure done….ummm, who’s going to pay for this? Not my insurance that’s for sure. and just how safe is it? After they send these messages, I wonder, do they think I’m not doing everything I can?
When we hear that someone is an inspiration, it is supposed to be a positive thing, but inspiration can be negative. You can inspire people to do bad things. Look at Charles Manson or Adolf Hitler, for example, they inspired people to do all kinds of horrible things. They were very inspirational, just not like we have been conditioned to think of the word.
The people who inspire me to try harder, to live more fully, to embrace life, and simply care more are the amazing people I meet who have chronic illnesses and can still love their life, with all it’s limitations. I’m amazed by the people who undergo many painful medical procedures and still greet each day with love. I’m positively inspired by those who are able to push through and do the everyday things, even when life is just so hard. The people who show compassion and support to others despite the fact that they get so little themselves, these are some of the people who inspire me to be the best me I can.
I’m not saying that famous people can’t be a positive inspiration, I’m simply saying that is not always the case. When I see a list of famous people who suffer from vertigo, it doesn’t inspire me to do anything. I feel compassion for them, and I often wonder exactly how much they battle with their illness behind the scenes. What are we not seeing? The phrase, “but you don’t look sick”, sure hits home when we see someone like the beautiful Selena Gomez, who has Lupus.
Then I hear things like, “Nicolas Cage suffers from vertigo all the time”. Ummm, really? All-the-time? I could believe he has disequilibrium all the time, but full blown vertigo, no way. I simply do not believe it. If he has vertigo all the time and can function as well as he does, that would be a miracle. I can believe that he may have recurring vertigo, but not constantly. I’m pretty sure I’d kill myself if I had full blown vertigo all the time.
Who inspires you to be the best you can be?
Do you get positively inspired by famous people who have your illness?
Does it make you feel inadequate when you hear that someone who has the same illness that you have has done something like run marathons, or started a successful business, or has won the “Golden Buzzer” award on America’s Got Talent, like Mandy Harvey did, who is deaf?
Am I the only one who is rarely “inspired” by these stories?
*image is a screen shot from Dictionary.com