Friday, March 18, 2011

Society On The Verge

As I have become close with so many fellow-fibrates, I am learning a lot about the way we think, act and react to life and its multitude of challenges. I have said it once and will say it again, I have yet to meet a stronger group of people anywhere! But as I maintain my relationships with my family and friends, the non-fibrates in my life, I feel I am becoming aware of a vicious theme. It has been there all along, and in fact I was a willing participant in its evil clutches before I became ill. I cannot speak for any other country, for I have only ever lived in the USA, but we are working ourselves to death! If pure physical exhaustion does not take you down, the emotional and mental stress of being over-worked and over-stressed and under-appreciated and under-valued will! The commonplace that has become the middle class working environment is starting to resemble a toothpaste tube. They will squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until there is nothing left of you. And once your productivity suffers because of it, out you go! Companies are downsizing and unemployment is at a dangerous high. Yet those that are lucky enough to have kept their jobs are doing the work of 2 people (at least) and burning out fast! We enjoy lifestyles we cannot afford, drive cars that cost far more than our budgets allow, saw what happened when we started buying houses that we could not truly pay for and the retirement age is 15 years older than it was when I was a kid!

A thought crossed my mind. Are we the sensitive ones that could not keep up with unrealistic demands on our lives and constant and pervasive stress? Are we actually a normal reaction to a society gone awry? I for one can say going into a salaried position with no overtime "allowed" but impossible to do my job without was the first step of many down the slope to developing my illness. When I go out in the world I see angry, bitter people ready to snap at the slightest thumb of their string. They yell at their kids, salespeople, gasoline attendants, anyone really, upon the slightest provocation. In our effort to achieve and accumulate all these things, status items that show the neighbors and strangers walking down the street we are worthy, we are trading in our humanity. And ultimately our happiness. For if a Fibrate knows anything, we know happiness does not lie in the possession of material objects.

We are a very young country descended from immigrants. People from every reach of the globe who risked everything and worked tirelessly to the bone to make a better life for themselves and their future generations to come. Those expectations die hard! 200+ years later we are still doing it, but our basic needs are met! Most have food, clothing, shelter and stability. Grocery stores, shopping malls. Washing machines and refrigerators. What the generations before us worked so hard for has been achieved! Most enjoy a pretty darn good quality of life in the USA, and I am not only talking about the affluent and upper-middle-class. But it is not enough, never enough. So we keep pushing, reaching, grabbing at that next thing that will fill our empty hearts, all the while missing the point completely. Maybe CFS and FM are much more of an environmental by-product than we give them credit for. Or maybe it is just that living in pure flight or fight mode day in and day out for years took its toll and took us down, sooner than later, because of the perfect mixture of genetics, expectation, environment and inherited behaviors. Just some food for thought.

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  1. I remember thinking that $20,000/year was a princely salary back in the 70's! Now that I'm a single parent on disability.....I am barely surviving on that....especially since my mortgage takes almost half of that! But I also know that a LOT of people would not be able to survive on that especially near Boston where I live. I live simply. And I find it's MUCH easier! I don't have the stress of having to "out-do" the rest of the world anymore! I don't need fancy clothes, fancy cars and the biggest house on the block. I spend MY money on my own comfort now. Physical and mental comfort. Comfy sweats, groceries, my hobbies, and some good chocolate is pretty much all I need! So yes..I think you are so right. We are making ourselves sick trying to be all, and do all, and HAVE all....when all we really need is comfort..... ....and each other!!

  2. Damn skippy. I so love reading your posts.

  3. You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. We are becoming a corporate nation....everybody must keep in step and tow the corporate line. No creative thinking, just work and more work and STRESS. We don't feel good about ourselves until we have crammed as many things as we possibly can into an already full day. We are always looking to the future~how much will I make next year, I want THAT house/car, I want, I want. In fact, we want for nothing! Those of us with FM have come to realize we can't live with the stress of every day life. More and more people are going to develop the symptoms as they succumb one by one to their over-stressed systems. If we could only make the young women know the importance of slowing down, of doing nothing, of doing less and feeling fulfilled, of making less and feeling worthwhile....and the necessity of JOY in their lives we would be doing a great service to our world.

  4. I've found this more and more true for myself as I struggled to maintain one job after another. It seemed each time I was downsized, I found a new job with higher demands, less pay, and more stress! It really screwed with my FM. There may be a lot to what you have to say - maybe we're actually more in tune with our bodies than others are.

  5. It is an interesting question you ask. As a fellow "fibrate" I have often asked myself the same question. Although, I have never had a "stressful" job. I have never really worked at a job like that. I have been a dishwasher and a bartender. I am good with a budget and have never over spent or tried to live beyond my means. Yet, I still have FM. I have had stress in my life, but it came from other places. Always worried about something, always trying to make everyone else around me happy instead of me. Then I had a pregnancy that didn't go well. I was put on bed rest in order to keep myself healthy enough to carry to term. 4 months of bed rest did the trick, had a daughter and ended up with FM. I was 18. 14 years later at 32, I still don't work at a crazy job. I am happy as a housewife and mother. I work part time out of my home and take care of my family. I live in a trailer and drive a 10 year old car. I *STILL* have FM. So I wonder, why do I still have FM and why is it worse now then it ever was?

    I love your blog. I support your crusade. Gentle Hugs and Happy Lilacs!

  6. Leah: I was happy to read your observation. Yes, we are the sensitive ones. Its unfortunate that my body had to smack me down to get my attention.
    I can remember as a child being easily exhausted, fainting, have trouble sleeping, but when I complained I was called melodramatic and accused of seeking attention. No wonder I ignored my fatigued and pain and plowed on...until I just couldn't any longer. I'm learning to listen to myself, finally, and I'm grateful for that.

    Keep writing about fibro, my sister. Peace, Love, and Joy, YaYa

  7. I was not one of those overworked, over-stressed people prior to getting sick. My trigger was a reaction to medication. But I do wonder about healthy people who have all the necessities but don't consider it to be enough, pushing themselves to extremes just so they can appear successful and/or acquire things they don't even need.