Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Health Tagline: Give Up Being a Caterpillar!

I'm really excited to be participating in the WEGO Health Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge.  I'm hoping that the challenge factor will motivate me to write more often (every day this month, in fact!), and that that will develop into a habit of writing regularly after the month is over.  More importantly, I'm hoping that by sharing my experiences, thoughts, and insights about living with chronic and invisible illnesses, I'll be able to bring comfort to someone struggling with the same issues.

*Note - I'll be including this introductory paragraph at the beginning of every post, so that anyone who's checking in will have that background info.  If you come back another day (and I hope you do), you can skip this part!

Today's assignment: "Health Tagline"  Give yourself, your blog, your condition, or some aspect of your health a tagline. Make sure it’s catchy!

I've already had a tagline for my blog (and for my Buttahflies teams prior to starting the blog) for quite some time.  Just scroll back up, and you'll see it.  A few days into the challenge, I wrote about what it means to float like a buttahfly.  My tagline comes from the only natural follow up question, and its answer, taken from Trina Paulus' Hope for the Flowers:
"How does one become a butterfly?" she asked.  
"You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar."
That's really what it all comes down to.  When I decided that I wanted to become a butterfly, I had to give up a lot: the negativity, the self-doubt, the self-deprecation ... and take on a positive and active outlook.  I've fallen back several times, but the important thing is that I continue to get up, and keep on going.  That's how I became not just a butterfly, but The Buttahfly.

With a chronic illness, it's even easier to get stuck as a caterpillar.  We already feel sick and tired all the time, and all we want/are able to do sometimes is stay in bed.  Along with that, it's easy to get into our own heads, and get down on ourselves.  We may feel that we have lost our value as a human being when we lost our health or our abilities.  We may feel that we can no longer contribute to a relationship, and that all we are doing is bringing our partners down.  We may withdraw - from friends, from activities, from life.  We may become caterpillars.

If we want to fly - or float like a buttahfly - we've got to give up being a caterpillar.  We must give up the notion that we are defined by our illnesses.  We would never look at someone else as only his disease, so we must remember that we are so much more than that ourselves.

Surely, there are days (perhaps even weeks at a time) that we are physically unable to get up, get dressed, and go out.  That does not mean that we can do nothing.  With a laptop, we can still go online to connect with other people - both with illnesses like ours, and without.  We can be productive on a computer: researching information about our conditions, emailing politicians asking them to support funding for research, ... maybe even writing a blog that helps others with our illnesses see the silver lining.

On the days that we are not bedridden, we've got to make the most of it, doing what we can without overdoing it and making things worse.  If getting up out of bed and moving into the living room is all that we can handle, we must do that!  If we can make it to the kitchen, maybe we can make a nice lunch.  If we can get out of the house, perhaps we can take a walk around the block.  Better yet, meet a friend for coffee.  We can start small, but the important thing is to start.
In the beginning, a caterpillar eats and grows rapidly (like those of us on prednisone!).  When it is ready, it literally sheds its skin to form the chrysalis.  Eventually, it must struggle to break free and emerge as a beautiful butterfly.  Likewise, we must shed the skin of "helpless sick person" and fight to reach our full potential.  This is not an easy process, but it is vital for our survival.  We have the strength; we have the beauty waiting inside us.  Now, it is time to give up being a caterpillar, and learn to float like a buttahfly!

**If you like what you read, tell a friend.  In fact, tell me, too - post a comment below!  If you don't ... well ... I'm all for honesty, but ... please be gentle!