When the Minority Becomes the Majority

Sometimes there are things we know we need to do, need to share and that would be good for us, but it can be so hard to make ourselves do it. Starting can be daunting.

There is a plethora of ideas and suggestions out there from everyone around us and on the Internet for things that would improve our lives. Sometimes we need to hear it from someone who has been through that experience, trialed it, and learnt how to make it work for them. We don’t always need to do exactly what they did, but we do need to find a way to start. This is especially useful for when we don’t have time to work it out for ourselves or if we need to get something in place fast. 

Right now with COVID-19 affecting everyone’s lives, we are seeing so much information about how to adjust from our normal lives to this new normal. There is a lot of anxiety about medical uncertainty, isolation, and loss of social involvement, financial income, employment and identity. 

But we tend to forget in stressful times, that there are many people out there in the world who have already gone through this adjustment period; people with chronic pain, medical conditions, sudden chronic injuries, the elderly, changes in lifestyle such as just having a baby or retiring, or taking up the role of caring for a loved one. They may have dealt with this adjustment to a new normal with a medical condition and felt alone in the process. I certainly felt alone in the process of changing my lifestyle to support my medical condition. Even though I had lots of support around me, it was primarily my life that had to drastically change. I wasn’t seeing identical changes happen to my family, and they also had to change in their own way to support my needs. 

COVID-19 is a rare occurrence where we are all experiencing this together and that unity in change means we have a lot of support available to us and comfort in seeing it reflected around us – we are not alone.

We need to be careful of taking advice from someone at the same stage that we are at, who is guessing at what we need for the long run, for example a person who is also a few weeks into a new diagnosis, or a more common scenario of adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions. We should be turning to the people who already lived through this experience, learned from it and can provide advice for long term solutions. The chronic condition communities are often overlooked but are the most well-equipped for the current medical pandemic. We know what pitfalls we need to look for and what to do to keep ourselves going, no matter how tough and difficult it gets. We have tried every coping mechanism there is and became creative to find ways to help maintain our wellbeing to optimal levels. As Glennon Doyle says,

“We have to stop asking for directions to places from people who have never been”.

The questions we should be asking for our physical and mental wellbeing are:

  • How did you adjust your lifestyle to your condition? 
  • What were the simple adjustments that made a big difference? 
  • What were the things that were difficult? 
  • What would you have avoided or mitigated if you knew earlier that it was a danger? 

We all have a friend or relative that has been through a similar experience. Reach out to them, tell them that you are now getting a glimpse at how it is to deal with medical uncertainty and isolation, and have a chat about their experiences and what advice they would offer. We may discover that we have a new found empathy for their situation. It is a vital time that we ask for help and find a sense of purpose with whatever we can offer. 

Go gently, Readers.

Take heart, I’ll keep the light on.

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