Friday, 12 May 2017

Guest post by Wendy: Courage

Guest post from Wendy for #May12BlogBomb 2017 on courage and how it relates to having a long term debilitating illness:


Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?  Cowardly Lion Monologue on the Wizard of OZ

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one, as in "she called on all her courage to face the ordeal."  Or strength in the face of pain or grief, as in "he fought his illness with great courage."

mean mental or moral strength to resist opposition, danger, or hardship.
Courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty. “the courage to support unpopular causes”
Mettle suggests an ingrained capacity for meeting strain or difficulty with fortitude and resilience. “a challenge that will test your mettle”
Spirit also suggests a quality of temperament enabling one to hold one's own or keep up one's morale when opposed or threatened. “her spirit was unbroken by failure”
Resolution stresses firm determination to achieve one's ends. the resolution of pioneer women”
Tenacity gives birth to stubborn persistence and unwillingness to admit defeat. “held to their beliefs with great tenacity”

You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.  {Michelle Obama}

When you live with chronic illness, every aspect of life takes on a new dimension. Your daily decisions and choices are examined through a new lens, and you often find yourself carefully weighing the ramifications and possible outcomes of your choices. But, wait, wasn't this the way it always was? This is something all intelligent and responsible adults do?  However, living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis broadens the scope of that decision making process. The question isn't only how will this decision or choice affect you, but also, how will it affect your illness which in turn affects you and the choices and decisions you continually make.

“Catastrophes create heroes, people who know how to deal with trouble. They come in all shapes and sizes to take the lead: a medical worker, a lottery winner, a neighbor, bystanders, a priest, a child”

The notion of choice occurs at many levels. We have little or no choice about the thoughts which randomly occur to us. We do have choice about how we choose to act, that is, what we do about the thoughts. We also have choice about how we feel. Not choice about the feeling we have now - that is the result of past choices, but about the feeling we have next. We can be sad, and choose happiness, angry and choose love, etc. There is not any "right" way to "be," just possible ways - each with consequences. From a purely pragmatic perspective - evaluate the choices you have made, see what the effects have been. What is it that you want? What choices are you prepared to make to support those ideals ? Some things achieve what we want, others don't.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.  {Winston Churchill}

Living with a complex chronic illness such as M.E. is a search for quality of life. One needs to be well informed about their illness in order to manage their physical symptoms as best one can. However, one also needs to learn to live with a certain amount of ambiguity and uncertainty. Striving for a balance between work and play, rest and activity, relationships and solitude, and grief and joy, the challenge Myalgic Encephalomyelitis means we must come to accept our limitations and appreciate our gifts.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” {Nelson Mandela}

Obviously, this is a demanding aspect of living with chronic illness. It's also the measure of your courage. Living with illness affords ample opportunity to be courageous in living your life to the best of your ability. Because when limitations and diminished control over the effects of illness are part of your daily life, your choices and decisions become the stuff from which courage emerges. The fact is, if you're living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis you are courageous. In the process of meeting life's challenges, you have learned and are continuing to learn how to meet your fears and move beyond them. 

“There Is Courage In Being Vulnerable.  Courage is borne out of vulnerability, not strength.It is when we are at our weakest we find our strength through courage. 

Being real, being raw, being authentic, laying bare your flaws and discovering your voice can have massive power. Standing in who you are, owning your strengths and weaknesses and accepting who you are is  amazingly powerful. Most people have been raised to believe that vulnerability equals weakness. But it doesn’t. There is incredible strength and courage in vulnerability. We must live in the space of vulnerability. Vulnerability is not just about fear and grief and disappointment it is indeed the birth place of everything we are hungry for : joy, creativity, faith, love and innovation.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable,but they’re never weakness.”  BrenĂ© Brown,

This is an inspiration for all of us around the world. We can not be invisible any longer without risking our lives. We need proper care and medical treatment, funding for biomedical research, education for those in the medical profession who need to learn more in order to treat us but more importantly we need acceptance and understanding in our communities because our disease is so complex one can only understand it by contracting it themselves.  We need to show that this can happen to anyone.

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