“You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.”
I guess you could say it’s a natural part of the roller coaster ride that is life.
But for those of us who live with chronic illness, the scales can be more heavily weighted in favour of ‘blah’ territory.
Everyday has the potential to be ‘blah’ on a mega level.
It’s not like a broken leg, where you are laid up for around 8 weeks, and then you get better.
It’s not like when you come down with a bad case of the flu (I hear man-flu is off-the-charts bad!), and you feel pretty crappy for a week or two, and then you get better.
Chronic illness is a completely different kettle of fish.
We don’t have the luxury of just resting and it will get better, because by the very nature of the word ‘chronic,’ there is no clear end point in sight.
So how does one lift on the ‘blah’ days?
For decades we have found comfort and hope in superheroes.
Superheroes are a form of escapism, a means to focus our attention on something other than the immediate pain, suffering or problems that are right there in front of us.
No matter how insurmountable the odds may seem, superheroes always manage to rise above the circumstances – they kick butt! – and come out on top.
But Bree, I hear you say, we aren’t like superheroes.
We don’t always come out on top, no matter how hard we may fight to push our way through.
So how can we possibly relate to these mythical beings who always find a way to win, when it’s not always attainable for us?
“You can’t relate to a superhero, to a superman, but you can identify with a real man who in times of crisis draws forth some extraordinary quality from within himself and triumphs, but only after a struggle.”
– Timothy Dalton
Superheroes all have problems that we can identify with; (oftentimes) painful back-stories, challenges and experiences that have shaped them into the people they are today.
Look at the X-Men: The mutations displayed so prominently in the series could be regarded as disabilities, both visible (e.g. Mystique) and invisible (e.g. the telepathic abilities of Professor X), as they are generic differences which society treats as deviation from the norm.
The characters have well-documented struggles with acceptance, body image, discrimination, physical pain from transformations (e.g. Wolverine)…the list goes on.
All very real, everyday issues that many of us can relate to.
Superheroes embody the idea that what makes us different is actually what gives us our super powers.
No wonder we like them!
The floodgates opened! Here are some of the awesome responses:
Maree Talidu: “Praying. Music. I have specific playlists for certain moods and situations. And finally, this is going to sound vain and vacuous, but eyeliner. I guess it’s like my war paint. If I’m wearing eyeliner, it meant I woke up struggling but as soon as I apply it I feel like I can face the world.”
Helen Edwards, Recycled Interiors: “Taking time in nature, music, my family, exercise and writing.”
Rachel Cox, The Chronicles of Rach: “When things are really awful, I listen to music. It is sometimes the only thing I can manage. Its transporting soul food that fills me with moments of times I’ve had, or ideas for writing when I’m feeling better. Yeah, music. It has pulled me through more than once.”
Michelle Roger, Living with Bob (Dysautonomia): “Writing is my outlet and my therapy of choice. Also my dog, Freyja. Her warm, furry head in my hand and sitting outside rubbing my feet on the grass, small things but they work.”
Kelly Owens, A Jumble of Things: “When I was a kid with Crohn’s, I was stuck home from school a lot – and on those days, I’d dress up in my sister’s prom dresses and lay on the couch – feeling slightly better knowing that if I had to feel like sh!t, at least I could look like a princess doing it.”
And Me? “Superhero Starbrite comes out to play! On goes the make-up – the fur-baby thinks I look pretty(!) – and I bop out to the song “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down. Oh yeah, you know it!
If I’m feeling really crazy I dig out one of my few remaining pairs of high heels – those coveted pairs I just can’t bear to part with – and admire my endless legs from my prone position on the couch.”
To use the tools that work best for us as individuals and lift us up.
If that means donning a cape and leaping across all the furniture in your house yelling, “I’m Batman!” then go for it.
If that means applying your fight-face (aka make-up) because it lights a happy fire in you, then go for it.
If that means wearing a camel-coloured coat from the movie ‘Our Brand Is In Crisis,’ on the days when you need a superhero pick-me-up, like Sandra Bullock, then go for it.
Release the powers that are already there; tap into that which works for you.
Be your own superhero.
What do you do to feel like a superhero when you need a bit of a lift? Comment below!
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Feature Image Credit: Pixabay
All photos and content the property of Starbrite Warrior and Bree Hogan. Not to be reproduced without permission.