Just Because You Have an Illness…

I’m just going to come right out and say it…JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE AN ILLNESS DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO BE A JERK. No, it does not 🙂 Where am I going with this? I have been a jerk of late. Why, you ask? Well, partly because I have bi-polar disorder and am unhappy with my therapist, partly because I have ulcers that have returned and I have to go back for another colonoscopy/endoscopy and partly because my IBS is flaring. I AM NOT HAPPY. While I have every right to be frustrated, confused, anxious and perhaps a bit despondent, none of this gives me the right to take my troubles out on those around me. If everyone in the world who didn’t feel good or had some kind of ailment mistreated their co-earthlings, then this would not be a very happy world to live in would it. I’ll tell you how I discovered this recent turn of events and what I plan to do about it.

Throughout my struggles with various illnesses I have developed a wonderful tool. It’s called self-awareness. I use this tool all the time to determine what I need for my wellness. I am daily checking and double checking how my IBS is, how my mental health is and how my overall wellness is. I am daily checking how my spirit is and how my behavior is. These things are all very important to me. I started realizing that I had crossed a line somewhere when instead of telling the flustered kid at the grocery store that there were to be NO WORRIES when he deleted my entire order by accident, (which is, in fact, my usual way), I grumbled, looked at the floor and finally looked up and asked him if he even knew how to work the cash register at all, with a nasty, sarcastic, sardonic tone. Woh, hold on, what is this? I’m a good guy. I don’t cause trouble. I am patient, empathetic and kind…or I was. Acceptance of a problem is really important when deciding how to correct a problem. I did not realize how bad this type of issue could become until an incident at work the following week.

Anger and frustration

I work on what they call a ‘Warm Line.’ It is not a crisis hotline, but one where people with mental illness, substance abuse problems or really, any other illness or problem can call to talk for a while. We have a frequent flyer who is almost always cranky and slightly demeaning to the staff, but in the spirit of helpfulness, we mostly ignore the nasty comments and try to redirect this particular gentleman. Until last week… Something one of the counselors said to this man triggered him in such a way that the most horrible hate speech started flowing from his soul. I mean the worst kind, racial, sexual, on and on and on. The man was angry, the man was frustrated and the man felt defeated by his illness and took it out on several of us. While he had every right to vent his frustrations, he did not have the right, under any circumstance, to verbally abuse people who were trying to be of some support to him. That all said, I have been making an effort to share my frustrations regarding my illness(s) rather than taking them out on people. I don’t think this is an unusual phenomena. I think when we get sick and tired of being sick and tired, someone may reap the whirlwind. Let’s just try to be aware of how we treat others regardless of how sick we feel.

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