Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Gorilla in Your House

Someone on the Brainfog forum reminded us of this today, so I thought I'd share it with you on here. It was originally posted on the BBC "Ouch" Disability forum and it resonates with so many of us with chronic conditions that most people don't begin to understand...

Are you ready for this? It might make you think about things a bit differently!!!

The Gorilla in Your House


Acquiring a disability is a bit like getting home to find there’s a gorilla in your house. You contact the approved and official channels to get rid of infestations of wild animals (in this case, the NHS) and they umm and aah and suck air in through their teeth before saying something roughly equivalent to “what you’ve got ‘ere, mate, is a gorilla, and there ain’t really a lot what we can do about them, see…” before sending you back home to the gorilla’s waiting arms.

The gorilla in your house will cause problems in every part of your life. Your spouse may decide that (s)he can’t deal with the gorilla, and leave. Your boss may get upset that you’ve brought the gorilla to work with you and it’s disrupting your colleagues, who don’t know how to deal with gorillas. You’re arriving for work wearing a suit the gorilla has slept on. Some days you don’t turn up at all because at the last minute, the gorilla has decided to barricade you into the bathroom or sit on you so you can’t get out of bed. Your friends will get cheesed off because when you see them—which isn’t often, because they don’t want to come to your house for fear of the gorilla and the gorilla won’t always let you out—your only topic of conversation is this darn gorilla and the devastation it is causing.

There are three major approaches to the gorilla in your house.

One is to ignore it and hope it goes away. This is unlikely to work. A 300-lb gorilla will sleep where he likes, and if that’s on top of you, it will have an effect on you.

Another is to try and force the gorilla out, wrestling constantly with it, spending all your time fighting it. This is often a losing battle. Some choose to give all their money to people who will come and wave crystals at the gorilla, from a safe distance of course. This also tends to be a losing battle. However, every so often, one in a hundred gorillas will get bored and wander off. The crystal-wavers and gorilla-wrestlers will claim victory, and tell the media that it’s a massive breakthrough in gorilla-control, and that the 99 other gorilla-wrestlers just aren’t doing it right due to sloppy thinking or lack of commitment. The 99 other gorilla-wrestlers won’t have the time or energy to argue.

I have known people spend the best years of their life and tens of thousands of pounds trying to force their gorillas to go away. The tragedy is that even if it does wander off for a while, they won’t get their pre-gorilla lives back. They’ll be older, skint, exhausted, and constantly afraid that the gorilla may well come back.

The third way to deal with the gorilla in your house is to accept it, tame it, and make it part of your life. Figure out a way to calm your gorilla down. Teach it how to sit still until you are able to take it places with you without it making a scene. Find out how to equip your home with gorilla-friendly furnishings and appliances. Negotiate with your boss about ways to accommodate, or even make use of, your gorilla. Meet other people who live with gorillas and enjoy having something in common, and share gorilla-taming tips.

People get really upset about this and throw around accusations of “giving up” and “not even trying.” They even suggest that you enjoy having a gorilla around because of the attention it gets you (while ignoring the massive pile of steaming gorilla-turds in your bedroom every morning and night, not to mention your weekly bill for bananas). The best way to deal with these people is to smile and remind yourself that one day, they too will have a gorilla in their house.

Posted by Mary, Thursday, April 10, 2008

Some Replies…

“The official bodies to get rid of your gorilla will all disagree about the exact type of gorilla he is and try their best to re-classify him as a very small tame monkey.”

“The gorilla isn’t being nasty or anything. It’s just being a gorilla and doing what gorillas do.”

Anonymous cheryl said: “Oh, my! I read your blog and I can so identify with your situation. I was diagnosed w/ Epstein Barr Virus in 1994 after dragging around for years. I was told that I was ‘very, very ill’ but that nothing could be done to help me. I ended up trying Reiki which I think helped, but what I think really helped me was changing my diet, taking loads of vitamins, visualization, and the passage of time. It took me about 2 years after diagnosis to start feeling human again, and I still have times where it’s impossible to haul my exhausted self out of bed, but it can get better.

“Hang in there, and don’t buy in to the idea that this is what the rest of your life will be like. I am here to tell you that it can get better, even though 99.9% of the people in your life will never understand what you are going through. Be good to yourself, especially when ‘they’ are telling you that you’re just doing all this for the attention you’re getting.

“All the best!”
Saturday, May 10, 2008 3:11:00 AM

Blogger Mary replied: “Cheryl, while I thank you for a comment that I am certain was meant in the most kindly way, I fear you may have missed my point.

“‘Hang in there, and don’t buy in to the idea that this is what the rest of your life will be like. I am here to tell you that it can get better...’

“That’s what I mean by trying to force the gorilla out.

“I’ve accepted life with the gorilla—if the rest of my life is like this, that’s okay. I have a boyfriend, friends, a loving family, a job, hobbies and interests… these are the things I spend my spoons [energy rations] on, and because of that, there’s nothing so horribly wrong with my life that makes me desperate to ‘get better.’ The gorilla is a pain in the backside, sure, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.

“Sure, it would be nice to be pain-free, to be able to go for a walk, to be able to do a full-time job. But I’m not prepared to get in debt—financially or ‘spoons’ wise—chasing ‘cures’ and following diets in the hope of something which might work. I prefer to spend my resources enjoying life in the now.

“That way, if my condition improves, it’s a bonus, which seems much better than pinning all hopes on getting better and being constantly disappointed.”
Saturday, May 10, 2008 7:32:00 AM

Blogger Amy said… “Ah, the gorilla analogy is just as good as the Spoon Theory! Wonderful job. Next time my teacher tells me, ‘You’re awfully young to have so many health problems. It makes me wonder what else is going on,’ I’ll tell her that a gorilla is stealing all my spoons. That should quiet her. Ha ha.”
Thursday, May 22, 2008 5:57:00 AM

Mary (Location: United Kingdom):
ME is a chronic neurological illness. WHO classification ICD10 G93.3. If you don’t want to plough through the technical gubbins, my very basic understanding of the condition is that I got severe ‘flu and a bunch of other viruses, and my immune system screwed up, and I’ve not recovered since. Which has been annoying. As for me…26-year-old knitter living with my boyfriend and my robot vacuum cleaner.

If you want to know more about the "Spoon Theory" mentioned above, go here:

Although the lady who thought up the Spoon Theory has Lupus, it can apply to any chronic disabling condition.

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