Often times, the first thing we think when given the diagnosis of a chronic, incurable, and needy disease is “Why me.” We want to know how whatever it is that we have got there. Sure, there are genetic factors. Sure, there are environmental factors. But in that very first moment when you feel like your world has been smushed and cracked open and flipped upside down, it’s not a question of “why me”, but “why me.” We want to know why we, out of all people, became the “lucky winners.” Honestly, there isn’t really a real answer to this question. But for the person who’s asking the question, no answer is not an option. They want an answer, and they want it now. So, here’s my answer:
It doesn’t matter.
Yep, you heard me. It. Does. Not. Matter.
At all. Why? Because. Because if you have a chronic condition (as in never-go-away), trying to find out why you got stuck with it will get you nowhere. It’s there, and it’s there to stay. Even Sherlock Holmes himself won’t be able to figure out why you were the lucky recipient of the lifelong illness prize.
Personally, I never asked this question. For whatever reason, I never really cared why I had gotten some lifelong disease when my friends did not. Truthfully, everybody has something different about them, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. But I understand why so many people ponder such a topic for so long: they want to feel in control. Chronic illness is not a controllable thing. However, for some reason, knowing how you got it and why you got it make you feel like you can handle it. But you can handle it even if there are things you can’t control. You can’t control what foods your body will/will not tolerate. But you can control whether or not you eat those foods. See what I mean?
So, back to “the question.” Honestly, it’s not the question of “why me” that holds so much significance, but the emotions behind it. Are you asking it out of anger that you got a sucky disease and your friend Bob didn’t? Are you asking out of confusion because you genuinely want to know what’s in your DNA? Or are you asking simply because, well, you want an answer?
If you didn’t like my extra-big, extra-bold, shell-shocking answer above, don’t worry. I have a “real” one here. Or at least steps to find one. The truth is, I can’t answer this
question for you. You have to answer it yourself. And the first step t answering it is to ask a different question. Yeah, you heard me. Scratch the initial thing altogether. Now, ask yourself, “why do I want to know?”
Do you want closure, or comfort, or the ability to feel like a genius? (Hint: If you say “I don’t care,” then stop wasting time asking it anyway.)
Now, think about the emotions behind the question. Rather than wasting time trying to answer a question we all know cannot really be answered, instead try to deal with the emotions it’s coming from. Whether you are angry, sad, or confused, try to unscramble these feelings and think about what this diagnosis changes for the future. Below are some tips to help you do this.
- Talk to someone. Talk to someone you trust, like a parent, sibling, cousin, or good friend about how you feel about whatever diagnosis/problem you have. Make sure they are actually listening!
- Write it down. Writing lists is a great way to un-confuse your head. Write down your feelings and a list of changes you might face in the future.
- Draw a picture. Art is a great way to express emotions and calm down.
- Distract yourself. While you will need to release your emotions/concerns eventually, if now is not the time, set a different designated time to decompress and do something fun in the meantime.
Now, I’m not saying you should use these techniques to stop caring about the “why me?” question altogether. It’s a nagging thought that millions of people with chronic illness face on a daily basis, and we should take sometime to think about it. But thinking about your disease and the unfairness of it all on a constant basis isn’t going to make it go away. It isn’t going to make it easier to accept the changes you will have to make. It isn’t going to make it fair. So what is?
You, and your mindset, make all the difference. You can choose to fall into the “why me?” trap, or you can choose to move on. Yes, incurable diseases suck. A lot. But that doesn’t mean they have to shove all of that negative stuff onto your life. Frankly, it doesn’t matter why you got this disease. What matters is your ability to realize that yes, it’s there, but no, it doesn’t become your whole life. What matters is that you can learn to move on. What matters is that you can accept it not only when you have answers, but also when you don’t. What matters is that you realize that you can still be you, with and without your condition.
So, “Why you?”
I don’t know. But that’s okay; nobody does. It’s not about the “why.” It’s about the “me.” Don’t focus on the things you can’t control that caused your disease. Focus on you, and the things you can control. Because you still have choice, and you still have control. Choose to look beyond “why me?” Instead, ask yourself “now what?” How are you going to move on and accept you for you?
It’s not about why you got some annoying disease. You didn’t have a choice. It’s about how you react. And you do choose that. So take your time, and choose wisely.