Crisis is not a good teacher … indeed it is not a teacher at all.
In the business world we have been taught that crises are opportunities, that smart leaders know how to turn any scandal in an occasion to thrive and that where others see difficulties, we should see chances to improve ourselves.
Indeed, there are several examples of companies that managed to achieve that, one for all might be considered IBM that has been able to reinvent itself successfully anytime its business stopped being profitable; in IBM’s history, a bump in the road has been seen as a springboard to the next triumph.
In theory, the perception of crisis as an opportunity should be applicable to people as well and the Internet is full of crappy cliche that will try to convince you that “Life is like an Arrow. An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards before it can launch forward. Whatever you are going through in life, just remember this. When life pulls you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming”.
Since stupidity does not discriminate, we can even find the religious version, that will comfort us by telling that God gives the hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.
Therefore, in the middle of a crisis, we should be happy because not only we are strong enough to endure everything, but life is preparing us for the greatest joy! But wait, there is more: during crisis we should be able to learn many valuable lessons that ultimately will show us the real meaning of life.
Because, let’s face it, life is not only working until death to pay your bills … isn’t it?
Except that reality is a bit more complex than this and quite often during a crisis the easiest lesson to learn is that there is not much to learn. You will not wake up one day full of enlightenment, with the wise smile of someone that caught the meaning of life simply because life dealt you a bad hand; on the contrary, it is likely that you will wake up either full of rage, during the good days when you will still have the energy to give a crap, or full of nothing, wondering why you even bothered to open your eyes at all.
Then, little by little, you cannot tell the days from one another and you feel so disconnected from the world around you, that it is like you are not there anymore.
This is what a crisis feels like to me and I know that because I am going through something like that for six months now and it is not even the first time; nevertheless, even if my crises are definitely different from the ones taught in business schools, I should have learned some valuable lessons.
I have learned that every crisis is slightly worse than the previous one and that every crisis feels like it is going to be last one, because you sense in every inch of your body that you cannot endure something like that again. It is simply not physically and mentally possible.
And yet again, here you are, another crisis is gone and a new one is approaching, over and over again, in a morbid dance that has become your life.
I have also learned that people genuinely care about you as a human being even if you are not functional anymore. People who love you, will spoon feed you when you are not capable of doing it yourself, and they will do it without complaining.
People who love you, will keep you company even when you are not able to speak or open your eyes and they will come to visit you even when their schedule is full.
They will pay an attention to you and to your body in a way that is actually moving, they will walk slower with you, they will stop more often, they will pick you up to go anywhere.
I have also learned that all of this is completely irrelevant when you are going through a crisis because the only thing you want is for the crisis to be over. Or for your life to be over. At the moment, I would trade my partner, who is taking care of me and is putting on his shoulders the doctors’ appointments, the fear of how the new treatments will affect me and my constant shutting everyone out from what is really going on in my mind, to never have a depressive episode again and to go back to how I was before I got diagnosed.
I do not know if this makes me a selfish and despicable person, but I do know that I miss that young woman that was capable of working/studying/partying almost non-stop and that, between depressive episodes, was still curios to see how this shitty movie was going to end.
My brain has always been slightly defective but at least my body never betrayed me. Now things have changed and love, regardless of whatever they will tell you, will not save you.
I have also learned that if you have an autoimmune disease and depression, you have to deal with living many days at 50% of your capability and there is nothing you can do about it. You will be stripped away of your strength and of your will and you will spend most of your time sitting on the sofa, watching your life slide away.
I have also learned that is vital to become realistic as soon as possible: at 32 years old you should have a loan and a kid, while you have multiple sclerosis and depression. Well, accept it and deal with it.
Deal with re-writing your own story and be reasonable with what you are expecting from yourself: would you ever ask a person in a wheelchair to run as fast as Usain Bolt? Most probably not. Then do not ask yourself to be always happy and cheerful about life and if you feel like spending an afternoon researching suicide methods, then do it.
Hopefully the day after you will do something different.
For sure those lessons are depressing but the most precious one might be that there are no right or wrong ways to go through a crisis and yet whatever you will do, going to therapy, trying to maintain a social life, keep on studying to prove that you are still there and worth of something, will be completely useless.
But maybe this is exactly the point: there is no sense in trying to learn something from a crisis or getting something good out of it. There is no half full glass here, only a raging tempest that will leave you with new bleeding scars and with a renovate sense of pessimism that eventually you will start calling realism.
Also, this storm will pass and at some point from the remaining wasteland, flowers will stop growing.