Sunday 19 January 2014

Survival guilt, feeling like a fraud, and viewing disability as a personality trait

Again I'm posting on two issues here, comparing my older illnesses with my new (and hopefully temporary and short-term) condition of Hodgkin's lymphoma.

1. Survival guilt
Usually reserved for those who have well, actually survived cancer or illness and came through the other side, I think I actually began to have this feeling from my first chemotherapy session -if not even from diagnoses.

I wouldn't say I was in denial about having cancer, or that I am now, but the reaction of the doctors made me feel that not only would I probably be ok, but that I was lucky. This is all well and good, and I do definitely believe it! However, that little fact only helps to produce feelings of guilt in me towards sicker people... particularly when I go to the chemotherapy sessions. You see people who are clearly sicker than you, you overhear conversations of the types of cancer they have, of their stories, of the horrific amount of times they have went through treatments. That's when I feel like a fraud.

2. Feeling like a fraud
Now, don't get me wrong blogger friends, I aint totally crazy. I do realise that I also have cancer (again, not in denial, folks) and that these feelings are quiet ridiculous -although at the same time, probably quiet normal. AND I realise as my chemotherapy sessions progress, I will indeed feel, and look, sicker -unless I'm one of those freaks who gets hardly any symptoms. Please, let me be a freak!

...but that's the thing I guess, the old issue of  "Oh, you don't look unwell?", going back to the hip dysplasia and associated issues (and perhaps some un-associated issues). From work colleagues, friends, and general people. And don't get me wrong, most the time people didn't mean any harm -I am aware of that. And I know that looking healthy should be a positive thing! But in all honesty, it can be hella annoying at times. Trying to explain to someone why you can't physically do something and they're looking at you
like you're a fraud, or lying, or over-exaggerating. That was mostly the case anyway,  until I started using my stick most of the time.

People enjoy a tangible thing like that, my stick. Rather than me explaining big, medical words that don't make sense to them (or even to myself at times!). I get that! The stick doesn't change anything though -I had the same issues that are there now. I just became smarter in that I copped on, "fuck it, I'm meant to use it for a reason, might as well see if it'll make my joints last longer". And I'm glad I did -for all sorts of reasons.

But for now, going to the chemotherapy sessions, I can sometimes feel in a way like a fraud. The same way I used to view my minor disabilities (I stress minor, 'cause I view them as such -there I go again comparing myself to others, and how their issues are far worse, but who the hell doesn't do that!?).

3. Disability as a personality trait
Since starting this blog, and even before starting it, I've read many viewpoints from partially disabled peoplefully disabled people, people with chronic illnesses, etc. on how they view themselves. You might be surprised to hear that many do not not necessarily want to be cured. Sure, loads are like me, love to rant and be pissy about being unwell -we're only human at the end of the day, and everyone has days like that; whether you're unwell or not! :) However, this doesn't mean that many people want to be any different to what they are now, and actually view their disability as a personality trait that they wouldn't want to live without.

I'm still on the fence about that one. I don't know if having my issues makes me, well, me. Maybe that's because I've tried so hard to hide it in the past, and have cringed at using any such term for myself as 'disabled', 'partially disabled', or the one I like to use now (probably just because I like to slag myself off and have a joke at my own expense) 'mini cripple'. Either way, I enjoy reading others views on the topic, and I'm sure I'll have a broader idea of how I see myself in the future.

Here's two blogs I've found that I like to read, that you might like too:
That Crazy Crippled Chick
(I particularly liked this post - "This Is What Disability Binarism Looks Like").
And Disability Thinking.

So what's your views on these issues? Please feel free to leave a comment underneath -whether you are disabled, completely 'able-bodied', have or haven't got cancer, or hell, even if you're a cat. Please be a cat.

Would love to hear them all! :)


  1. My son has cerebral palsy and he refers to himself as a 'raspberry ripple'. Bless him!

    1. Ah that's a great one -sweet and creative! :)

  2. This is very well written & very insightful. Although, these are not issues affecting my life, I can totally understand.

    1. Thank you Sally, means a lot... I was hoping when writing it that I was making some sort of sense and it didn't come across as silly ramblings, LOL! :)