The ‘If Only’ Game

Do you find yourself playing the “if only” game?

I learnt in my twenties that playing “If only I had/did x then I would be happy” game is a lose lose situation.  Getting a pay increase / car / boyfriend / house / new clothes / holiday / baby / new shoes etc isn’t in itself going to make you happy.  Happiness comes from within.  I forget what they key to happiness is – or I’m not sure.  But I know it’s not stuff.  Or status.

I try to avoid playing the “If only I had …” game because that doesn’t get me anywhere either.  It’s easy to think if I had only taken better care of myself / left my job when times were bad / liked myself sooner in life / not eaten so much in 1999/2000 etc then I wouldn’t be ill now.  It’s pointless – because what happened happened. 

So – why is it that I do seem to be playing the “If only I didn’t feel x / have x symptom … then I could cope”?  It’s been creeping in quietly and it’s only been the last week or so I’ve realised it’s happening.

“If only I didn’t have this constant IBS then I’d be able to cope”.  IBS drugs and avoiding certain food/drink starts working again.  Hurrah!

But then next day “If only I didn’t have brain fog then I could cope”.  I find a few clear days where although I’m not up to verbal gymnastics with a call centre operator I am able to beat a few friends at online scrabble and remember important things.

So I move onto “If only I didn’t have this stupid chest infection / migraines / exhaustion / insomnia / whatever is the worst thing that day or moment … then I could cope”.

Truth is – it seems I have to learn to find a way to cope even with the symptoms, flare ups and chronic complaints.  I have to find something beyond drugs and beyond tears of frustration.  Maybe only time will give me my answers. 

 But it sure as hell sucks that we have to cope with it at all.  I’m afraid that right now I don’t want to be an inspiration, a picture of determination and serenity in the face of chronic health.  I’m angry and I’m ill!  Don’t I get to be a grouch about it? 

When people ask me how I am – people who haven’t kept in touch this last year – I want to shout “I’m freakin’ awful!  I’ve never been so ill or frustrated or incapitated my whole life!  And there’s no answers!  I’m horribly ill.  If my head isn’t swimming and poudning, then most likely my bowels are cramping and playing nasty tricks on me, or my arms are weak and I’m aching all over.  I sleep and wake up feeling as rotten as when I went to bed.  That’s if I can get to sleep and ignore the pain.  And I take drugs and pain killers and suppliments like they’re going out of fashion.  And everyone seems to have a theory about why I am ill and how to get better except for my health care providers who tell it like it is – that “NOBODY KNOWS”.  I’m in the house most of the time, I get lonely but I having visitors or going out makes me fatigued and ill.  OH AND did I mention the constant nagging cruching exhaustion?  How do you THINK I am??”

But I’m not sure that approach will woo them into keeping in touch in the future.

If only I knew … oh – there I go again 😉

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2 Responses to “The ‘If Only’ Game”


  1. 1 bbabe September 12, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Hey, I know exactly what you are saying. I have reactive arthritis and grave’s disease and sometimes find myself thinking “what if…”. Just know you are definititely not alone; I lost my job because of my arthritis. I’m a nurse so it’s hard to move around when both knees are swollen. Lately, I’ve felt kind of numb but I’m trying to stay positive. I’m 26 years old in case you were wondering. Hang in there!

  2. 2 ouiser September 13, 2007 at 3:47 am

    I seem to play this game a lot with doctors! They ask what one symptoms bothers me the most. This last doc asked and I said, “Which day?” then explained that on different days, different symptoms are worse and then it changes the next. Without missing a beat, the doctor asked, “Ok.. what five symptoms bother you the most.” Uggghhhh!

    I can’t name one symptom that would make my life better if it were fixed. Not even five, really. I agree… lose, lose situation.


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