Building Walls

Building Walls

No, not that wall we have heard so much about. I am not talking about a physical wall, but more the wall we build to protect ourselves. From what are we needing protection varies widely, of course, some real and some perceived. Some of us who have been diagnosed with hep C will feel a great need to build a wall around us to prevent other from knowing of our illness. Generally we do that because of the stigma that goes along with hep C in the minds of people who are unaware and uninformed. This doesn’t mean that the lack of awareness makes them bad, but sadly, because of the close association with drug use, a group of people that is much maligned in society. I should add here that how anyone got hep C is irrelevant to me and never has been important. Any of you who have faced stigma know exactly what I am talking about. And who can blame anyone for building a wall to protect themselves from ridicule or judgments about our character?

Protecting Ourselves from Judgment & Stigma

As with a lot of chronic illness in my experience, people will establish methods for protecting themselves from shame or from having to explain why they can’t do this or go there. The comments like “you don’t look sick” don’t help. In many cases, like with the many ways we are affected by hep C, we simply are not always well enough, feeling sick and tired, to do the things that healthy people take for granted. I used to take good health for granted too, until I didn’t have it for an extended period of time.

Setting limits on what we can do is often dismissed as the result of a weak character or lack of desire to try and do our best. These things do not pass the grade in my view, and only serve to further marginalize people who are already vulnerable by virtue of their chronic disease, over time.

The reality for most of us is that if you are living with a chronic disease that can result in any kind of disabling effect, you are not going to be able to do anything you want to. And if someone says that you can they just don’t get it, or they have attended too many pep rallies or self-improvement seminars. I am all in with trying to do as much as you reasonably can, and only you know what the limits are for you. Your threshold for pain, your ability to stay alert or any other manifestation of your condition are all factors in determining your limit/wall. Even top athletes hit walls. We all have limits, healthy or not.

Know Your Limits, Physically & Emotionally

My own approach is to be mindful of what my limits are, whether physical or emotional there is no glory or prize to win if we position ourselves for a fall or a perceived failure. I push myself, don’t get me wrong, but it takes pushing for me to get through some days. Many of you know what I am talking about, I am sure. We hit walls, we build them, but for others to limit or label us in ways that diminish us, should never use them.

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