Laughter: Changing your Mentality

I am going to be the first to tell you that chronic illness sucks.

Okay, I probably wasn’t the first to tell you that, but I think it can’t be stated enough. It’s annoying. It’s inconvenient. It’s frustrating.

My legs have this annoying tendency to just give out. Out of nowhere they just go completely numb and can’t handle ANY body weight. When this happens, I’m often rendered on the floor, basically incapacitated until I regain feeling in my legs, which can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

It’s probably one of the most frustrating things. Granted, it’s something that I’m living with, but as I grow older, these episodes become more frequent and last longer.

I have a pretty Type A personality, and it’s moments like these that my Type A really comes out. I like control and am a HUGE planner; in fact, it’s something I get excited about. However, let me be the first to say that my legs giving out is never a part of the program.

So I get frustrated. I am a very headstrong person who loves to be independent, but when I am on the ground, I am forced to rely on other people. And I hate relying on other people. I’m like a four year-old in that sense; everything needs to be done by myself.

This frustration and anger often quickly spirals into depression (I’ll talk about mental health and chronic illness in another blog post that will be linked here when I post it), and what I’ve found combats a lot of it is just laughter.

My friends and I have an ongoing joke about my life. We call it a sad comedy, like Romeo and Juliet if Mercutio was the center of the play: funny enough that you laugh, but bad enough that you almost feel like a horrible person for laughing. My life is pretty punny, a tad bit of a joke sometimes, and I constantly live in mini “worst-case scenarios”.

Growing up, I always felt like it was super unfair, because why does this always seem to happen to me? As stupid as that may sound, it wasn’t like anyone else was dislocating their shoulder tripping over nothing?

Yes, this was me shortly after popping my shoulder three inches out of its socket. I needed surgery. It was actually kinda hilarious.

But I had two choices; I could either laugh about what happened or get extremely frustrated and angry and cry about it. And most days, I choose to laugh.

When I dislocated my shoulder, I remember sitting up, looking down at my neck and bursting into laughter, because hey, this was just another hilarious story I could tell my grandkids. Plus, it was a life experience, even if it wasn’t one I really actually wanted.

Now let me begin by saying that this was an active choice. It wasn’t easy to turn frustration into laughter, especially when life actually sucks. But hey, life shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and life with chronic illness should definitely be taken one appropriate laugh at a time.

This was me approximately three weeks after surgery with my sister(holding the phone) and my cousin. Photo courtesy of my sister’s Snapchat.

“I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing.”

-Dr. Madan Kataria


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