Have you ever found yourself thinking, "Oh, for Heaven's sakes just pick yourself up you layabout?" when you read of someone being on benefits or on long term sick pay for a mental disorder?

I think we all have and you know what? You should stop RIGHT NOW and think again.

I can't speak for what other people are going through but I would like to share a little analogy with you that might just make you think twice before judging others in the future.

Imagine if you will, some nasty person injects you with a poison that gives you the following symptoms:

• Uncontrollable shaking
• Nausea and vomiting
• So much tension in your arms and legs that you cannot walk properly or indeed even hold a cup of tea.
• Terrifyingly dark, racing thoughts.
• The constant urge to run and hide.
• Heightened hearing so every noise makes you jump.
• Heightened vision so that the world looks very “trippy”.
• Loss of appetite.
• Inability to concentrate on even the most basic of tasks.
• Insomnia.
• Pins and needles.
• Headaches.
• Crippling stomach pain.
• RACING heartbeat.
• Sweating like a stuck pig.

Not a very nice poison is it?

Now imagine you are told that this poison may well stay in your system for up to three weeks.
What if you were told that the symptoms would occur again and again for the rest of your life?
What if you were told that the only antidote was somatisation or mind over matter?

Next, imagine if you are then told that despite all of these rather frightening symptoms happening all at once and all day long, you would have to:

• Get yourself out of bed (with legs that can’t move) and walk to the bathroom for a wash (with hands that can’t stop shaking) whilst vomiting at the same time.
• Get dressed.
• Force food into you having just been sick.
• Brush hair/shave (razors?! With hands like this?!)
• Get on your bike and cycle to work with your vision flashing and your eyes exploding from all of the noise whilst trying to make those legs work.
• Get to work and manage to talk to collegues, do your work and try your best to “appear normal” knowing that they can see your shaking hands, your beads of sweat and the way that you walk like a robot.
• Deal with having to buy food after work that you DO NOT want to eat or cook because you feel sick.
• Spend time with your partner in the evening trying your best to pretend to be normal for them because you know that you are stressing them with your illness.
• Or even worse- go to a pub or a party full of loud, drunken, hectic people once again having to PRETEND to be normal.
• Finally fall into bed knowing that you won’t sleep as the dark thoughts are turned up to 11 in the silence.
• Wash, rinse, repeat the next day and the next and the next.....

Could you do that easily?
Would you want to?

I think most mere mortals would rather curl up and die rather than have to live like that?

Well folks, that is what it is like to be me day in and day out.
And that is what it is like for millions like me.

Do you still think we are layabouts who should pick ourselves up and just get on?
Because actually, me and my brethren pick ourselves up and get on with it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

From: [identity profile] ms-rivet.livejournal.com

Hear hear! I am fed up of people ranting on about how it's so unfair that people with mental health problems/other invisible illnesses get benefits and how they might as well not bother working. They should try being at home all day feeling like shit and wishing you hadn't woken up.

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

Which is why I wrote this.
I am a total illness vigilante these days!

From: [identity profile] munkus-bubbly.livejournal.com


Gots to admit that I did think that way. And then it happened to me :/ My symptoms aren't so varied as yours but I hear a lot of what you're saying.

I take it as a lesson in compassion and kindness though.

I still think there ar a few folk out there swinging the lead, but I've had my eyes opened. Opened wide.

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

I know Hun.
I had you in mind (and others) when I decided to come out and write this. XXX

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

You are clearly not alone.
It sucks but as you said- it can happen to *anyone*.
We also have the ability to make it *unhappen*. It just takes three times longer than you might think.

From: [identity profile] munkus-bubbly.livejournal.com

Clearly I am not, which is so reassuring :)

And it will tale as long as it takes. I is a fighter, innit.

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

It can certainly do that to a person.
One of two ways- bitter and twisted or full of compassion and patience.
I chose the latter and I think that you will too. X

From: [identity profile] gipsy-dreamer.livejournal.com


I suffer from some of the same symptoms as you do and I am sick to death of people thinking that I'm taking the piss!

Thank you so much for posting this xx

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

The more of us that do it the better the world will be when it comes to compassion, patience, understanding and a toning down of prejudices.

From: [identity profile] beckyc.livejournal.com

*Waves* - I came here from [livejournal.com profile] gipsy_dreamer doing a similar post and citing you and I just wanted to say how brave I thought you were for posting this and for making it public when you did so. Good on you.

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

Thank you.
When push comes to shove SOMEONE has to initiate the anarchy and I was tired of waiting...

From: [identity profile] sprezzatoura.livejournal.com

I'm so glad you posted this, it sums Things up so much better than the Spoon Theory, which I know works for some people but which I find incredibly trivialising.

You're obviously a better person than I am, though. It hasn't made me kinder, it has made me more beligerent and grumpy (though I like to think I was, and continue to be, open minded in the first place).
Edited Date: 2010-03-12 04:10 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] binidj.livejournal.com

Spoon theory works much better to explain my experience of M.E. because, mercifully, I don't have to put up with a great deal of the horrid horrid crap that others have to. It's still pretty debilitating but if I ration my energy appropriately my life is comfortable. I count myself very fortunate that such is the case.

From: [identity profile] sprezzatoura.livejournal.com

As I say, I know some people find it helpful and I'm not knocking that, but it's never really been appropriate for me.

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

I found it helpful in explaining "why" I couldn't go out and party with my mates any more. I truly did- but I needed to explain more personally the PHYSICAL symptoms of what I go through every single day so that if I "do" go out they will know that is how I am feeling and perhaps be kind enough to make slight allowances if I suddenly flee the room!

From: [identity profile] sprezzatoura.livejournal.com

Your debilitating poison analogy is perfect. I'd never really thought about it like that before. I'm lucky in that I don't actually need to work at the moment, and I wouldn't get benefits anyway because my husband supports me, but sometimes just taking my daughter to school is such a massive mental and physical challenge that I'm used to telling myself to get a grip and pull myself together. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by very understanding and forgiving family and friends, so most of the time it's me, not them, that I need to convince, and spoons just don't cut it for me.

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

Which is why-people need graphic details to picture what you are going through.
Luckily for me I have two benefits. I am synnie so I can visualise in words and also I have something like 10 Aspie friends and I have become very used to spelling things out for them graphically so that they can understand what I I am trying to say.
I quickly realised that when it comes to spelling it out about being nuts woolly analogies DO NOT cut it. Well you wouldn't use a spoon to chop up a steak would you?! :oD

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

Nah. I appreciate it mind but I prefer my own analogy.
It's the Stephen King version- plenty of gore and brings it on home! :oD

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

C'mon Bin.
You have a tough old time of it my lovely.
Don't be self effacing. XXX

From: [identity profile] binidj.livejournal.com

I don't though, not in comparison. There is very little physical pain, no nausea, no uncontrollable shaking. There is fatigue so bad that sometimes I can't stand, there are balance issues, and there is mental fatigue/confusion. I'm not underselling what I do experience, but it could be an awful lot worse. What depression I go through every now and then is easy to identify and easy to manage, it's not a huge amount of fun but neither is it as bad as it could be.

I'm very very fortunate.

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

Swap then?
I may well puke up in your car tomorrow- I hope your windows open?

From: [identity profile] binidj.livejournal.com

Yes the windows work and I shall make an especial point of showing you how they are operated. =)

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

There is a train that could get me to Three Bridges for 13.11 or 13.25.
Which would suit you?

From: [identity profile] binidj.livejournal.com

The 13:11 would be preferable I think. I've learnt from past experience to leave an awful lot of wiggle room when travelling to the frozen North.

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

I'll be in touch tomorrow to confirm if I am well enough and thing. X
Hopefully i should be if I get some sleep!

From: [identity profile] aoakley.livejournal.com

Having compassion and understanding doesn't negate the goodwill of encouraging said people to pick themselves up.

It can be done without name-calling.

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

Yes it certainly can.
But with an understanding behind the good will that it takes a LOT more effort for people to pull themselves out of it when they are already a long way down the proverbial rabbit hole.
I work at this every single day- do you know how much effort it takes to simply type a cogent answer to this post?! :oD
(I am on the computer editing my book- being productive even when I am being ill and I am also doing some research for work in case you were wondering "why" I was replying! I have multiple windows on the go.)

Where it falls down is when people no longer want to try to pull themselves out of it.
People like me TRY and TRY and sometimes fail but NEVER give up every single day.
Some people don't TRY any more.
In these cases they should be pitied but not perhaps given the encouragement to try any more since they no longer believe in themselves.
There is a difference.

People like me are worth prodding at 9as you do M'Dear) but we also wish you to understand just what it is like to pull yourself up when you are faced with so many obstacles.

Won't stop me from trying though with an aim to succeed.
The kiddies out there need me and I have a duty to be there for them.

From: (Anonymous)

Very good. I especially like the comment about it making someone a better person. I am quite happy that part happened to me :)

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

I am glad too.
It is easy to see it as a curse- which it is, but it can also be viewed as a gift you can use to prevent others from having to face it alone if their time comes. X

From: [identity profile] mia-oia.livejournal.com

I'm here via [livejournal.com profile] sprezzatoura. A superb post!!

(edited 'cos I botched the LJ tag, sorry)
Edited Date: 2010-03-12 07:26 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] liz-lowlife.livejournal.com

Hello and welcome and thanks for taking the time to come on over. :o)