The enemy within

In ‘Star Trek Beyond’, The Star Ship Enterprise is attacked by thousands of tiny ships. It is destroyed because there are just too many to fight. In Star Wars ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’  The strategy of the Rebel Alliance is for tiny ships to get past the major defences of the Death Star and attack it from within. In WWII one of the most effective weapons against the German forces were the many myriad of resistance fighters on the ground in occupied territories. They cut off supply lines, disrupted communications and generally caused confusion enabling a more effective attack by the main allied forces.

We are all familiar with the analogy of illness and disease as a battle. We talk of fighting illness, beating disease. Overcoming cancer. But not every illness can be fought and not all battles are seen. Many of us are being attacked by unseen forces. We have covert forces, fifth columnists, guerrillas, undercover operatives, spies working against our systems. We have nothing to fight and nowhere to aim our defences. It’s as if we are being attacked by small bands of resistance fighters disrupting our systems, or a small band of fighters has undermined our main defences and gone straight for the main operating mechanisms of our body. Or it’s like we are being attacked on so many fronts at once by such small individual things that our bodies are swamped and overwhelmed. Or perhaps all the damage has already been done, by disease, accident or injury and it’s irreversible.

Without warning we might wake one morning with a new weakness, increased pain and limitations. Instead of supply lines being cut off by resistance fighters, we have nerve endings interfered with or blood supply affected. Instead of star fighters undermining a large ship our body is undermined, our muscles are weakened, and central nervous system messed up. These things don’t respond to the usual fight response, in fact for those of us who suffer from such hidden attacks, our immune systems have been attacked first. So, a full-fledged response is just not possible. Where the attack has already happened, we are left reeling, looking at the aftermath.

We all love a good Hollywood block buster, don’t we? That point in the story, like the ones I mentioned above when the tables turn. When impossible odds are reversed, and the battle goes from being lost to being won. I am studying screenplay writing through an online course at the moment. It’s a short one that’s free online, supposed to be 2 weeks, but has just a few hours work in it. One thing you pick up fast on this course; we all know it already. Movie scripts are shaped into a pleasing form. The protagonist (hero/heroine) wants something, there is an obstacle to them getting it, they fight through and get it.

We know that in life many people want or desperately need things and most times people die without ever getting those things. I don’t mean to be negative, just realistic. I am not being defeatist to say that there are certain illnesses that you cannot fight. That once damage is done it’s often irreversible. There are times when giving up is OK; not just OK but positively helpful. You will find rest and peace if you stop fighting a lost cause. Stop banging your head against a brick wall. I have found that; I stopped fighting this illness a year or so back. Since then I find I can cope better, feel more peace and have more energy, mental and physical. Because I’m not wasting it on fighting the unwinnable. I still can’t walk or stand, but I am having fewer collapses and feeling brighter in between.

Not all battles are won by fighting. Not all victories are by overcoming the enemy. Sometimes a victory is in learning to live within your limits. Sometimes winning is to find a place of peace and acceptance of your situation. If you are newly disabled or have been for a long time but are fighting a losing battle against it. Listen to me on this; is the battle you are fighting winnable? If not, try accepting where you are and look for the good in it. Try to find a place of peace and calm amidst the storms of pain and limitations. Search for the new meaning in your life. Remember, if you have fought and fought and all you have achieved is exhaustion and despair, maybe try acceptance. It isn’t giving up, it isn’t hopelessness.

Acceptance is finding the new paradigm for your life. Accepting that change is painful, but not all bad. You are not a loser if you stop fighting, you have won, because you have overcome your disability by adapting to it. Sometimes if you cannot go through a wall, you can go around it. If the wall of your illness is too high to climb, go around it. You will find that the other side is not as horrible as you imagine. There is hope and a future even in limitation. Stop fighting and search for that.

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Do comment or get in touch with me. If what I have said has touched you I am happy to chat.

Author: Mike Nevin

I decided to write about the funny side of being cared for. I am a full time wheelchair user with daily carers. It's my experiences with my carers that inspired this blog.

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