“Don’t be in such a hurry to condemn a person because he doesn’t do what you do, or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.”
We have come a very long way as a society that condemns, judges, and makes fun of those that appear “different” from whatever the “norm” is. However, we have a very long way to go, especially when it comes to invisible illness and mental illness. Most of us with chronic pain have been judged, criticized or laughed at for either how we look or how we live/survive. After my bike accident, I was laughed at on a daily basis because of my outside appearance. As awful as that was, the humiliation I felt when people laughed or judged me once my outside scars were not visible was even worse. Having my pain invisible has been a much more difficult struggle than the struggle I faced when I had a shaved head, scars, and bruises. One can only understand this if one has an invisible illness which does include mental illness. However, just because we do not understand why a person does/acts/or chooses to live in a way we may not agree with or understand gives us no right to make them feel less. There is absolutely no excuse to judge anyone and I have found those who judge the most are those who do not want to face their own problems. It is much easier to point out the flaws in others than to face our own.
One of my favorite television shows is “Intervention” which airs on the cable network A&E and a show that I have tried not to watch for many years because I found that it made me feel very sad and at times is difficult to watch. However, last night my husband and I could not tear our eyes off of the most powerful episode of this show I have ever seen. We began watching the program because it was filmed in Camden, NJ just a few miles from where we live. Once we saw who was the person who the program was documenting we did not leave our seats and I had both tears of sadness and happiness as the show progressed. If you have not seen the show: “Intervention” I will explain the concept briefly. People who have any addiction whether it be to drugs, food, or alcohol are asked to be on a show to document the journey of an addict. They are not told that at the end of the producer’s filming, they will face an intervention alongside a counselor and their loved ones. The show can be very hard to watch as you do see people injection needles into their veins, sad faces of young girls binging and purging, families being torn apart by an addiction or mental health disorder. The show can be quite graphic, however after watching last night’s episode I believe everyone should at least give this episode a shot, especially if you are a loved one has any invisible illness. I have written this quote before but I will write it again: “We are all addicted to something that takes the pain away.” You are all still waiting for me to tell you who was featured on the episode that had me gripped from start to finish: the famous boxer: Rocky Lockridge who at one time was on top of the world and considered to be one of the best boxers of his time. However, for twenty plus years he battled an addiction that lead him to lose his wife, children, and home. He lived on the streets of Camden, NJ for over ten years as he drank copious amounts of alcohol and later smoking crack/cocaine just to get through the day. He wanted to get back the “high” he felt when he was the boxing champ: a short lived career for many boxers. In this one hour series you will see a man debilitated by a stoke due to his use of drugs and alcohol and a family literally suffering from the inside out. It is not until the end of the episode that I literally could feel the pain of Rocky Lockridge’s children and Rocky himself. His two sons spent ten years not knowing if their father was alive or dead and always wondering why their father left them for drugs and alcohol. It is his son who called the A&E network to find his father and set up the intervention. The tears and emotion that spill out during this intervention will leave most of you stunned and full of emotion yourself. This show saved the life of a man who had to face his children and realize that being the champ as a father was far more worthy than any boxing match he had ever faced. If you google the name Rocky Lockridge, you will be sad to see that one of the first links to come up is “funniest cry’s ever.” It broke my heart to see how many sites and people made fun of this man and the emotion he and his children felt. However, it pushed me further to continue writing about chronic pain and invisible illnesses in general because clearly we are a society that needs a huge wake up call on the importance of empathy and awareness. It is beyond shocking that so many people find the story of this man and his children funny as it is the furthest thing from comedy. However, it has pushed me further to continue my writing on chronic pain, invisible illness, and mental illness. We are clearly a society that needs a lot more empathy for those who suffer from addiction, invisible illness, and chronic pain. In order for people to gain that empathy there needs to be as much information, truth, and awareness out there.
At times it is difficult for me to share my journey with chronic pain as I am brutally honest about my entire journey from my bike accident to now. Many of the things I share are things I am not exactly proud of but I need to share everything even the downfalls in order to help anyone cope or find happiness despite a life with chronic pain.