Many years ago, somewhere in my distant youth, I was an avid reader and lover of mythology. I loved any and all forms of mythology and fables and I especially loved the tales of the Greek and Roman gods.
My mind and heart would be absorbed as I read about the Greek and Roman gods and the characters of great strength, wisdom and endurance.
Zeus was a favourite and everyone knows of the legend of mighty Hercules. All are wonderful tales and stories that have survived the centuries.
Years ago I would imagine myself in all of the tales and stories. Always the hero. Always the conqueror. Always going on adventures over sea and land. Slaying creatures and fighting monsters. Never would I have imagined that one day I would become one of these characters myself.
Of all the great legends and gods in mythology, my life has seemingly mirrored that of the most cursed and saddest of them all. Sisyphus.
For those of you who don’t know the story, In Greek mythology Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra. He was punished by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action for eternity.
There is no stronger analogy for what life is like as a chronically Ill person. None. The endless battle. The burden. The physical pain. The relentless monotony.
Everyday we must endure the unendurable. Push ourselves to our physical and mental limits just to keep going; Only to repeat it each day for the rest of our lives. A real life Greek tragedy.
I should make an important note here that this may not be the reality for ALL chronically Ill and I do want to say that I don’t speak for everyone. I can’t speak for everyone. Some may experience periods of remission and other such events. But this has not been my reality. My reality has been a steady decline and then a “pushing the boulder up hill everyday” for the past decade or more.
Furthermore, I should also point out that this is not coming from a place of depression or wretchedness. It is simply a statement of my reality and perception. If you happen to have a chronic illness you may immediately identify. If you don’t have one, then I hope you will be enlightened to some of the realities in a way that is much more tangible. That is, after all, why I write.
Sisyphus, Zeus, Hercules, Archilies and Aphrodite are stuff of legend and imagination, however these diseases and conditions are not. They are the realities that many people must endure without notice. Bare without recognition. And fight without reward.
Although my similarities to the trials of Sisyphus are very real to me, it differs greatly in that I don’t feel I have deserved my punishments as the legend of Sisyphus proclaims. Life itself has selected me for this role; and many others like me. We didn’t earn these diseases but we have to bare the consequences and try to force a life regardless. Unlike a story or a book, we can’t turn the page or rewrite the plot.
There will be no accolades and legends in our honour. There will be no statutes depicting the trials and struggles of all those who must learn to find the courage and stength to pick up that Boulder and push… Everyday….Keep pushing.
Whilst an eternity seems like a very long time to be punished and to bare a heavy burden, so too can a decade, a year, a month and even a day. It is all relevant to the one doing the fighting.
To all of you fellow fighters out there… Sometimes little things can happen during the uphill climb that can make all the difference and when we get to the top of the hill please take a moment to admire the view and your own courage before having to start anew. No matter who else may recognise our struggle and courage I think it’s important that we do.
After all, you really are the stuff of legends to me.