Illness in the modern world

Earlier this year I was Ill. I was ill a lot for about two months. Coughs, flu symptoms, endless migraines, feeling listless, it felt like I was being bombarded by everything that was going. When the cough had been around for more than three weeks I went to the doctor because everyone said I should. I knew what the doctor would say – it’s a virus you have to let your body deal with it and it will take a while. She was right it did take a while. I’m sure there was a small army of tenuous viruses but my body dealt with them eventually.

The attitude of those around me was interesting.

There were those who just wanted me to get on with it so that it didn’t have to impinge on their life, their work or their time. Fair enough I can understand that.

There were those who wanted me to get better soon, and they meant it. Good feelings do go a long way to making you feel better when they are heart felt.

There were another lot of people who were really interesting. There appears to be a modern opinion that all illness can be prevented completely by a positive mental attitude. It goes further to suggest that you are not mentally strong enough if you get ill. Now I subscribe to staying positive as long as it’s not that gung-ho “we can do it even though it’s impossible” malarky. Staying positive is my way of being open to new ideas, trusting in the decisions that I make and having the confidence to know that I can deal with most things when I have to.

I also subscribe to a mind body connection. When I feel run down or a bit under the weather my skin goes sallow and things like that, when I add in a bit of happiness then I can make myself feel better for a while. But what I don’t get is how a positive mental attitude can prevent a virus from doing its thing once it has gained access to my body. Once it’s there then I have to wait for my immune system to work out how to deal with the virus and that takes time and energy. Why anyone should think that catching a virus is the fault of my mental attitude is beyond me.

So is there anything that we can do once we succumb?

Eat well and stay hydrated keep the basic bodily functions ticking optimally.

Find ways to stay happy and positive once you have a bug and it will help you deal with it better, I am convinced of that. It’s possible that doing this may speed the immune response on its way, I’d like to think so. It certainly makes life easier to bear when you believe that you are not just a helpless passenger in this sick body and it gives you the perception that you haven’t lost control of your life.

Self hypnosis and meditation and visualisation do have a place here. Spend some time practising and imagining getting better, it’s not wasted. I believe it helps. Even if you are a sceptic then the feeling of contributing to mending yourself has to be better than wallowing in illness.

When you haven’t got a headache then music can lift your spirits. Sort out a playlist and some music that makes you feel good. Whether that be Motorhead Ace of Spades or Vivaldi’s Four seasons if it gets your motor running then that has to be a good thing. The first four on my list are: Led Zeppelin The Imigrants, Judy Kuhn singing Colors of the Wind, KT Tunstall Black Horse and the Cherry Tree and King Crimson Moonchild (without the self pretentious stuff at the end).

Remember that it wasn’t your fault. Feeling guilty about being ill gets you nowhere but worse.

It’s not just mental trickery, it’s self help.


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