illness & empathy
we need everyone to realize it’s everyone’s problem
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my vision for this blog is to be an archive for my thoughts as i embark into school to study acupuncture and integrative medicine, as well as a way to share some of the things i’ve learned over the years as a chronically ill patient.
this time and space of the world has drawn me to share some of the deep lessons and reflections i’ve had from living with chronic illness and navigating the worlds of care, medicine, ableism, healthcare and healthcare systems, and relearning self-healing, care and forgiveness amongst crumbling systems of capitalism and healthcare. i hope to craft experimental creative journalism that is informative and personal, relevant and political on topics of sickness, medicine and healthcare, as well as self-care, creativity and dreaming of new ways of being.
you will learn some things about me as i pour out my thoughts, and i just ask that you encounter my words with empathy, not pity. the western medical framework has taught us to be repulsed by sickness, to eradicate it, to have it “unseen” by society. this is the legacy of eugenics, the war against the sick and disabled, which i will get into but not yet. pity is built on the premise that you feel bad for someone else. you sympathize for another’s experience in a way that is built on the “other”. somewhere in your mind you believe it could never happen to you.
instead, i ask that you lean into empathy. empathy asks us to engage in how someone is feeling, and feel it with them as if it were happening to you. it is not about what is happening to the perceived other, but what is happening to us. what is happening in the condition that we all exist in.
this distinction is important. people who have fallen ill, become injured, experienced a life-altering event or events, know that something can happen to anyone at anytime. in the disability community, we know that anyone who is currently able-bodied can become disabled in a swift moment. this is why empathy is important. because it could be you. it could be your family. it could be your life.
this is why sick and disabled people don’t want your damn pity, we want you to engage with our stories, our rage, our insights, and do something about it. we cannot change the systems alone. we need everyone to realize it’s everyone’s problem. i hope if we learn one thing from 2020, it’s this.
that’s all for now, more ramblings soon 💜