Friday, April 4, 2014

Theme Song: Hand in My Pocket

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: Theme Song.  Imagine your health focus or blog is getting its own theme song.  Think “Eye of the Tiger” for Rocky Balboa. What would the lyrics be? What type of music would it be played to?

When I saw today's prompt and thought about the idea of a theme song, there was one song that immediately came to mind.  I've listened to it hundreds of times over the years ... actually, when I think about how many years I've been singing along with it (man, that makes me feel old!), maybe even thousands.  The lyrics have always hit home for me, with different verses carrying more weight at different times in my life.

The music in Alanis Morissette's Hand in My Pocket is fitting as a theme song for me.  The arrangement is simple, pure, and honest (as opposed to electronica/autotune).  The harmonica adds a unique and quirky (adorkable, perhaps?) element that always brings a smile to my face.  Most of all, the melody is upbeat - no matter what else is going on, the song maintains a positive feel.

Even more than the music, though, the lyrics provide the ultimate connection to my life, my illness(es), and my attitude about them.  The words show - clearly and repeatedly - the ups and downs of life. Both often occur at the same time, but what matters is which we choose to emphasize.  Through this song, we are able to focus on the silver lining of any situation, comforting and reassuring ourselves that things will turn out ok.

No matter what was happening in my life at the time, there was always a verse that stood out for me, a line that I sang louder than the rest, because it was just what I needed to hear.  More accurately, it was just what I needed to feel at the time, and Alanis seemed to know that.  She validated my feelings, and offered support, encouragement, and even compliments.

When worried about financial problems: 
I'm broke but I'm happy
I'm poor but I'm kind
When stressed about work:
I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed
I'm young but I'm underpaid
I'm tired but I'm working baby
When I'd stayed too long in a job (or a relationship) that didn't treat me right:
I care but I'm restless 
I'm here but I'm really gone
When I messed up:
I'm wrong and I'm sorry baby 
Incredibly, though I'd been singing along with this song (however off-key) for more than fifteen years before getting my diagnoses, there are many lines that suit my illnesses, and my feelings about them as well.  That shouldn't be too surprising: in recent years, Alanis Morissette has talked about her own struggles with depression and eating disorders.  Many of the symptoms and associated stigma overlap with Fibromyalgia, and I, too, struggled with eating disorders in my youth.  With that much in common, it's only natural that she could write about my experience and feelings.

The physical symptoms:
I feel drunk but I'm sober
I'm tired but I'm working, yeah
I'm sick but I'm pretty, baby
The great unknown (diagnosis and of treatment):
And what it all comes down to
Is that I haven't got it all figured out just yet
And what it all boils down to
Is that no one's really got it figured out just yet
The feelings about all of the above (and more):
I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed
I'm lost but I'm hopeful
I'm sad but I'm laughing
I'm brave but I'm chicken shit
Hand in My Pocket expresses the frustration of living with a chronic illness, while maintaining the optimism of floating like a buttahfly.  Life may not be easy, and we may not always feel good ... but there is always something to be happy about.  It is important to recognize and acknowledge what we have, even especially when we are weighed down by what we have lost.

Most importantly, this song leaves us with a promising outcome:
What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be fine, fine, fine
What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be quite alright
And what it all comes down to, my friends
Is that everything's just fine, fine, fine

**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!