Imagine if you will, that you arrive home one day to discover your house has been burgled. Half of your life’s belongings, ranging from the valuable to the priceless have been taken.
I’m willing to bet that most people’s reactions would be “For fuck’s sake! I can’t believe the thieving bastards have stolen half of my stuff!”and not “Oh well…at least they only took half of my stuff”
I don’t think that is anything to do with whether or not you’re a so-called optimist or pessimist. I think it’s just human nature.
Maybe later, weeks down the line you may get to a point where you think “Well, it could be worse, at least they didn’t take my cat / glasses / signed copy of my favourite book / whatever” but most normal people need a period of disbelief, of shock, horror, grief and anger first.
If the morning after you were burgled, a well-meaning friend or neighbour suggested you were lucky, and encouraged you to look on the bright side, you’d probably be less inclined to agree with them than to punch them in the face. Or maybe that’s just me?
This is relevant why? Well because it provides a good analogy for my life at the moment.
Only rather than coming home to a ransacked house, I woke up one morning in a body that no longer operated as it should. And as I struggle through each day, trying to continue with life as best as I can with limited functioning and mobility people keep telling me “It could be worse”.
This is a moronic statement, akin to “smile, it might never happen”. Yes of course it could be worse. There are not many situations that are so bad they couldn’t possibly be worsened in some way. But let’s be honest, if you’re telling someone “It could be worse” then it could probably also be a lot better.
I can think of hundreds upon thousands of things that I’m sure are so much worse than having Guillain Barre Syndrome that they’re incomparable. Does that mean I should feel delighted in some way that my situation is only as bad as it is?
Or perhaps, am I allowed to feel sad, scared, and down right pissed off?Am I grateful I didn’t end up ventilated on ICU? Of course! Am I devastated that this has even happened to me in the first place? Damn right I am!
It would probably be easier for me to “look on the bright side” if I could dress or undress myself without assistance. If I could pick up my own children. If I had made any progress at all since being discharged from hospital over 4 weeks ago. If I’d had even a glimmer of a hint of improvement or recovery. Maybe when getting up from a sitting position doesn’t take every ounce of effort and energy I can muster, maybe I will have some leftover for “counting myself lucky”.
Until then you’ll have to excuse me if I continue to have moments of panic, terror, depression and fury. You see my glass is neither half empty nor half full. I’m just human.