The Problem With Better
Do you ever find yourself resisting something that you know will make you better in the long run? Ever considered that maybe, just maybe, what you’re avoiding is that concept of getting better?
This is something that I grapple with all the time. I like tasks, I like definite and I like completes. Better, is not something I’m good at. Because better is a journey, not a destination. Sometimes, though, the better train decides to stop at little towns like ‘I can’t be stuffed’ station and ‘I’m dying’ metro. That’s okay. You’re not alone, and feeling like that doesn’t make you in any way a failure – it makes you human, and sick.
1. Mental and physical health is hard
Anyone with any form of illness knows that getting better is really, really hard. It takes hard work, persistence, energy that you probably don’t have. My cure, I know, is going to be getting my life to a point where I am physically and mentally healthy; the missing piece of the puzzle is exercise. And hot damn is exercise hard.
Seriously, 7 minutes of in-app yoga and I’m lying down on my mat huffing my lungs out. 10 minutes in the swimming pool and I have to sit down in the change rooms for 20 minutes to get the energy to drive home. It’s hard.
Mentally healthy is even worse. Forcing your body to do stuff is one thing – fighting against your own mind is another.
Never underestimate how difficult mental and physical health is. We see plenty of people fall to obesity, or general poor health, every year because a disciplined, healthy lifestyle is very hard to maintain. It’s especially when you’re also trying to keep a job, home or study. And you, my friend, have an illness battling against you.
2. It takes time
It’s kind of like not seeing a puppy for a few months. With the three month gap, you can tell that the little baby fluff ball has grown heaps. But if you’ve lived with the puppy for that three months, then the growth isn’t that obvious, because you’ve been present for the journey.
It’s the same thing with your health. You feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle every minute of every day. But if you stop and consider where you started from, I promise, any blip in your routine will just seem like a pebble on your path.
Getting better takes time. It takes time and effort and commitment. But put that all in, and in a years time, you will be able to assess that the uphill battle got you a little bit better. And in our world, a little bit is a lot.
3. Better as an adjective
Better is a very final word. It’s a destination. It’s a stop. A complete, there’s-no-going-back. I dread the day when an old high school friend says ‘but aren’t you better?’ to me. Therefore, I think that one of my biggest fears is that better is the top of my mountain and that there’s a good chance that I’ll just roll backward.
That’s why I said at the beginning that I believe that ‘better’ is a journey. We need to look at the word in its adjective form; you’re getting better. Slowly. Like a snail. You’re not well yet, you’re not completely better. You’re just getting there.
4. Finality is scary
There is a certain fear that comes from completion too. If you’ve made peace with being ill, then what happens when you’re better?
The answer is, nothing bad.
Not unlike Stockholm Syndrome, you’ve gotten used to living with your illness. For me, I’m used to the limitations on my body, the fatigue, the fog and the excuses. Technically speaking, I would be more productive, efficient, clever, pretty and active if I was completely better. I’d be able to do things the day I went to the gym, eat chocolate without repercussions, get rid of my shower chair. I’d have more time, less acne and a normal life.
Logically, it all sounds lovely. Internally, I feel like those things are a part of me now. Let me tell you; they aren’t. Imagine if someone handed you five bricks to carry around for the day. At the end of the day, when you hand them back their bricks, will you feel like they stole something from you? Or will you feel like you have sore arms and you want to DO SOMETHING with all your free energy?
If your illness is causing you the same weight as five bricks, then ‘getting better’, per se, isn’t something to fear.
5. What is better, really?
The question is, what are you fighting for? When you’ve been sick, and trying to figure out what, exactly, is wrong with your body, for so long, that light at the end of the tunnel sometimes gets lost. When you resign yourself to your situation, like everyone has to, and accept that you will have to manage it, sometimes complacency happens.
I’ll tell you right now, I get complacent. This is my biggest downfall. I get myself into a mindset of ‘I’m sick, and there’s nothing that anyone can do about it’. Wrong. You can do something about it.
The fact remains that even when the doctors tell you that there’s ‘nothing further they can really do’, there is something that you can do. A healthy lifestyle, of hydration, good diet, deep sleep and regular exercise will always improve your quality of life.
That’s your light. You’re not looking for ‘well’. You’re looking for better. It’s not something you’ll notice for a while, but I promise, it’s there. It’s an uphill battle, and you might feel like there’s nothing at the top of that mountain…but any improvement on quality of life is an improvement.
We all lapse. We all get sad. But better is a journey, and believe me, it’s not a pretty one. We all have our own path to take, but I do take comfort in that I’m not the only one who finds the concept of ‘better’ difficult.
You don’t really have to find something to fight for. There doesn’t need to be a significant other or a dream for you to fight for. You don’t even need to fight for better.
But do, please, consider fighting for yourself. Just a little bit of fight. Completely better, though a little scary, hard to measure and elusive, might not be in the cards; but a little better might be, and that’s always an improvement.
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