Sunday, 5 March 2017

Chronic Health and Dependency on Others

Image Credit: Background by Andy Bay on Pixabay.

Those with severe chronic health issues know the score: you will never be on equal footing with someone who is physically capable. It's why you're classified as disabled, after all.

This leads into a situation where you are vividly aware of your dependency on others. In order for you to survive, you require the generosity and thoughtfulness of those who are more capable than you are. Period. There is no wiggle room in this. Even if you can still walk and still have use of your limbs, you require their aid. People like us were left to die in the nomadic tribes and we wasted away in the streets during the dawn of civilization.

That's not a judgement on people from the past, just a sad fact that for the majority of human history we were not equipped to help let alone support those who are disabled. Those with amputations were still at a disadvantage but could mostly interact freely as their disability was a loss of limb and not a loss of internal functionality. People with cancer, Crohn's, genetic diseases, and a myriad of other unknown illnesses in the past were helpless regardless of hosting their original four limbs in reasonable capacity.

We don't live in that world anymore. We now live in a world where most countries can support the disabled to a certain extent and offer them some care or relief. Many are still left in the dust, many are still not included in the limited assistance that's available, but things are much better than they were. Hopefully, things will continue to get better.

"What constitutes as a condition?"

There is a component in this equation that is not regularly spoken of. What is the mental health impact of being dependent as a result of your incapability? Furthermore, can any impact from this situation be classified as a mental illness even though there is a clear and verifiable cause for it?

If you follow that train of thought, your question then becomes: "What is a mental illness?" The descriptions aren't very clear. Mental illnesses are conditions that afflict the mind. Of course we know that, but what constitutes as a condition? If you know the cause and you know why you are in this position, are you afflicted with an illness?

You could compare it to physical illnesses, which would say "yes" to that question. If you know you got cancer due to severe exposure to a carcinogenic, you are indeed afflicted with an illness. You know the whys and hows but you're obviously still sick. Does this same theory apply to your mental health?

It is unclear. If your depression is entirely context-based, is it fair to be diagnosed with depression when solving it only requires fixing the context? This could potentially imply that depression is a mere case of some lifestyle alterations and you then become peachy keen (a belief many do hold). That puts individuals with chemical imbalances in their head or some other cause for their depression at a severe disadvantage as the dialogue has now changed to imply that they simply haven't tried hard enough to be better. They're depressed by choice. 

But you can flip this around, just the same. Those who are depressed because of definitive aspects in their life may not be taken seriously because their "issues" are so concrete. You know what's wrong so that's not really a problem, you don't actually need help. Just change a few things around and you'll be made great again. 

You can spend countless days debating with others and with yourself about what constitutes as a mental illness, if how you change as a result of dependency can be classified as one, and if it even matters in the long run. None of this alters that you do change as a result of dependency. Your health makes you dependent, and both of these facts change who you are. They feed into each other and can potentially do so in a closed, self-repeating loop. 

"Both of these facts change who you are... and can potentially do so in a closed, self-repeating loop."

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my health, and subsequently becoming solely reliant on others for my continued survival, has made me a worse person. Did I choose to be that? 

I ask myself that question regularly. Am I just making the choice, every day, to be what I am? Is it truly as simple as deciding suddenly to be better, to not be how I've been for the past year or more? And if it is truly that simple, why haven't I done that? 

Am I happy with being awful? Do I enjoy hurting others? 

Do I enjoy hurting myself? 


  1. "People like us were left to die in the nomadic tribes"

    Can't find any information but I really don't think that's true. Hunter-gatherers lived in very close-knit communities where no one could be invisible.

  2. Plus you'd have family to take care of you and not have to pay strangers.

    1. A close-knit community and having family does nothing to counter the basic issue of being incapable of following the lifestyle required to survive.

    2. Hunter-gatherers could reliably subsist on something like 4-5 hours of work a day, contrary to the image of hand-to-mouth starvation most people have.

      Here's a quote from Slatestarcodex:

      "So there was a bit of traffic back and forth between America and Comancheria in the 19th century. White people being captured and raised by Comanches. The captives being recaptured years later and taken back into normal white society. Indians being defeated and settled on reservations and taught to adopt white lifestyles. And throughout the book's description of these events, there was one constant:

      All of the white people who joined Indian tribes loved it and refused to go back to white civilization. All the Indians who joined white civilization hated it and did everything they could to go back to their previous tribal lives.

      There was much to like about tribal life. The men had no jobs except to occasionally hunt some buffalo and if they felt courageous to go to war. The women did have jobs like cooking and preparing buffalo, but they still seemed to be getting off easy compared to the white pioneer women or, for that matter, women today. The whole culture was nomadic, basically riding horses wherever they wanted through the vast open plains without any property or buildings or walls. And everyone was amazingly good at what they did; the Comanche men were probably the best archers and horsemen in the history of history, and even women and children had wilderness survival and tracking skills that put even the best white frontiersmen to shame. It sounds like a life of leisure, strong traditions, excellence, and enjoyment of nature, and it doesn't surprise me that people liked it better than the awful white frontier life of backbreaking farming and endless religious sermons."

    3. Quote's from here:

    4. I don't really know what that is meant to convey except that the person who wrote that really likes native culture. "4-5 hours of work" per day is a nice sentiment but is meaningless to someone who can barely do 1 hour of very light labour per day.

    5. My point is that feeding a hunter-gatherer tribe was not a difficult task at all. No one would have to be left to starve regardless of how helpless they might be. It's really civilization that screws over the incapable.