31 July 2015

What do you wish for?

Purple flowers in beakers

I saw a meme posted in a Facebook group yesterday morning. It said:

"A healthy person has a million wishes. A person with a chronic illness only has one."

At risk of offending a heap of people, I don't entirely agree.

I agree that a chronically ill person wishes to be well, free of illness and pain, and perhaps wishes for a cure. They (we?) wish for employment, stability, access to healthcare and understanding from others.

But I also think that a chronically ill person has - and is entitled to - many other wishes and goals. We can be ambitious in our careers, relationships, social lives and hobbies. We are multi dimensional, and shouldn't be limited by others' assumptions.

I don't wish to be cured but sometimes I wish to be free of pain (like today). And I also wish (and work hard) to one day be published by New Yorker Magazine, to speak at another international conference, to complete my phd, to write a book, to teach at a university, and to have a happy, long life with my partner.

What do you wish for?

(There were some great responses to this meme and question when I shared my thoughts on Facebook yesterday.)



  1. For me that meme is written for a position of health privilege. A position that sees illness as the catastrophic end of the world scenario. And that perfection (whoever defines that) is all that matters. It is a flippant and infantilising idea. Do I want a cure? Yes. Is that the be all and end all of my apparently so pitiful life? No. It assumes that we are our illness. That once illness comes calling all other aspects of our life disappear swallowed up by our lack of health. I find it quite an insulting concept that negates me as a person. A complex multi-faceted person. It negates the joy I have in my life. It negates that I can have many desires and dreams. The way we discuss illness in our society is so warped. We moralise and blame. Catastrophize and silence. Illness is common. Chronic illness is common. 1 in 2 people live with illness, 1 in 5 with disability. Do the people who write these memes truly think all these people are one dimensional pitiful creatures? Ugh. I live with my illness not despite it. It is not all of me, but it is part of me. I'm not overcoming anything, or hanging for a cure, I am simply living my life. And while it is hard at times it is also filled with joy, promise and possibility. Anything that seeks to negate that makes me angry.

    1. Really well written reply to a great question posed by Carly

  2. I think using the word "disabled" as a general term to cover all the different illnesses/syndromes/diseases affecting people is actually not fair. This meme is probably very true for people who suffer such things as lupus and fibromyalgia while it may not at all apply to someone with a missing leg etc. Generalizations and inexact words (ie panic/anxiety attacks have nothing to do with normal panic or anxiety) can cause much discomfort and hurt for the people they supposedly identify.


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