Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Aimless? Not Quite

I had a friend tell me the other day that he worries about me a lot because I seem “lost.”

Taken aback, I asked another friend what she thought of that, and she agreed.

There’s this old Polish proverb, “If three people tell you you’re drunk, you’d better sit down,” so I’m waiting for one more person to tell me I’m lost before I quite believe it. I think what people are mistaking for aimlessness is something else entirely.

I’ve been on disability for 13 months now. In a nutshell, this means I do not get up and go to work from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, like most other adults over the age of 22. It means the government deemed me incapable of that, thanks to a severe illness, and so I get a check once a month from Uncle Sam and spend my days going to doctor appointments and the like. And I do have a job, just for the record. There are just rules about how much time I can spend on it, and there are days I’m too sick to do it. I have a very understanding boss, luckily, who gets that.

But because I don’t spend my time like “regular” grownups, I get dinged for the lack of structure to my days. Yes, it is troublesome sometimes, trying to figure out what to do next. Sometimes I’m not interested in going to the grocery store, no matter how badly I need to. Sometimes I don’t want to do laundry, no matter how badly I need to. Sometimes I just want to stay in bed and wallow in how bad I feel, and that’s part of the disease that nobody really understands. (I get a lot of the “think happy! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” type crap. IT. IS. NOT. THAT. EASY.)

Do I need a schedule? Probably. Is it easy to make and keep to one when you’re in the condition I’m in? Not even close. So do I need to hear that I’m “lost” and people don’t notice me because I’m just standing off to the side, doing nothing? Au contraire. Nothing is the most I can do sometimes.

Next time you see me looking aimless, come say hi and find out what I’m really doing. Betcha it’s something. Even if it looks like nothing to you, it’s probably taking everything out of me I have to get it done.

When I was a kid in Kansas City, there was a commercial for a car dealer named Frank Ancona. His tag line was, “PLEASE be kind to Frank Ancona!” Please be kind to me too. You might find out something you didn’t know.

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