1 year ago 💘 for day 234, 2020 with 485 words.

On (not) Sharing

A thought I never thought I'd have crossed my mind this morning.
"Hmm, my blood pressure is kind of low today. I'll skip the CBD oil just to be on the safe side."

There was no sense of urgency or sadness or any sort of feeling attached to it. I might have been reminding myself to take out the trash or watering the plants for all the emotional resonance it had. But it was such a strange thought that I stopped to examine it for a bit. I realised that part of the reason chronic illness or being less than perfectly healthy can feel isolating is not so much because of the things themselves, which become a habit over time, but because I couldn't share that thought with just anyone. Many people, especially those my age and those of my friends' age (late 20s, early 30s) would feel uncomfortable with such a statement. As I've found, they feel uncomfortable with other health stuff I've shared. It's a real part of my life, in the same way, that upkeep would be part of the life of someone who owns a boat, and yet there's this silence around it. To them, mentioning low blood pressure is a reminder of sickness. Of decrepitude. It invokes an image of old age and a sense of pity and sadness. Perhaps in a way that they can't quite formulate themselves, it might even be a reminder to them of the inevitability of old age and death. Because with each ailment it may feel just a small step closer. In such a way something minor like blood pressure, which is humdrum in the light of things, can remind them of their own mortality. A concept that most young people do not wish to be reminded of. Perhaps that's why it's such a relief to talk to my parents about health stuff who at ages 70 and up have a variety of ailments and can respond to anything with a resounding confirmation. My dad's occasional question of "So how's your blood pressure these days?" can make me groan, mostly because I probably forgot to check it for months, but its also refreshing in its rarity. No one else much talks about these kind of things, let alone ask about them explicitly.

In such a way, health stuff can become isolating and lonely. Not because it's so serious necessarily. But because talking about it becomes shameful. The kind of topic that can count on a cacophony of silence in reply. So you learn not to talk about it to those people who are so clearly disquieted by health talk. Which, if you are newly unhealthy, can take some time to learn. And even after you do, you never forget that gnawing feeling just behind your heart. That feeling that you should hide this part, this part which is also a part of you.


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By Leonie Jonk 💘

Artist & Spoonie I write about my life as an artist and as a person with chronic pain, the struggles, the rewards, the inspiration & the downfalls. Oh and occasionally the odd piece of fiction :)

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