It finally looks as though there is a chance that those truly unfortunate people who have spent almost the entirety of this year with their homes flooded, might actually be at the beginning of the end to their misery. I count myself lucky that despite having lived all over the country and in all sorts of homes, it is something I have been lucky enough to have never experienced. The closest I ever came was one very long summer as a child when it just never stopped raining. We spent most summers in the caravan just 15 miles from home at Stonehaven, now actually joined over the entire distance by houses to Aberdeen. Then though it was a small fishing village, with miles of coast and countryside, perfect for growing children in a time when children went out after breakfast and no one even looked for you until it was time for lunch. That summer the entire site was covered in duck boards and puddles big enough and deep enough to actually take a couple of swimming strokes, it was a summer of bare feet and wet clothes, but children always find a way or making it fun, if adults just let them go.
Imagination may well take you a long way when it comes to what you see on TV, but unless you have actually been there, felt the feelings of those involved, I don’t think any of us can truly understand the reality of a million things that happen daily to others. I have lost count of the times that I have had my interest sparked by the fact that a soap or documentary is to cover either chronic illness or the life of someone who is housebound, either from the patient side or from those around them, almost always I have been disappointed by what I have seen. It’s not that the TV companies do a bad job, or that I can’t empathise with those in the program, mostly it’s just they never seem to cover the things that I feel are most important, well, at least, to me. Clearly they have covered what was most important to the person they filmed or from the research they did, but simply because we are individuals, we each see things very differently. My biggest problem though is that they always seem to show just the negatives and ignore the positives, over exaggerating a particular issue and building up more and more fear of the illness they have chosen.
If I had never heard of MS from anywhere other than TV, I would have been totally terrified when I was told what was wrong with me. I know that TV companies are out to get high viewing figures, so a person in pain and centred around extreme issue after extreme issue, will pull in people to watch. It would be nice thought to just see once, someone who yes is living with a terrible illness, but who like me has accepted life as it is and then made the effort to make it even better, I know I am not the only one, I speak to many. Constantly showing chronic illness and even old age in a totally negative light is only ever going to achieve one thing, fear. We live in a world where people put themselves in front of the TV and believe everything they see, to the point it is almost impossible to change that view when needed. During last summer’s Olympics, a lot of energy was put into showing disability in a better light, but it centred obviously on people who were either born disabled or had lost limbs and so on. People clearly able to take part in sport and they did a wonderful job of breaking down some of those taboos and ridicules beliefs, is it not time though that they also applied the same effort to show people with chronic illness in a positive light.
Outside of a couple of soaps and medical documentaries, the way most people with chronic illness are portrayed is as people defrauding the government. I would love to see a program where they looked at the day to day realities, without every few seconds talking about the amount of money they get, or they need. But the biggest thing I would like is for them to show the chronically ill as people, people who don’t sit crying in pain all the time, but actually try to live a happy life within the restrictions their health forces on them. I wish that they just showed us as humans, not monsters, slobs, lazy or spongers, just as everyday humans living an everyday life as best as they can, despite of having to throw monstrous amounts of tablet down their throats or the times they find themselves lying in bed unable to do anything else, but still happy and still with the zest for life. We know that many of us have held down jobs far longer than maybe we should, that some are now self employed due to being unable to find work, just because they are ill. Would someone out there please, just shine a positive light on what are so often a mass of positive people.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 20/02/12 – Clear skies
I would like to thank the BBC for the return of ‘Upstairs Downstairs’, not for the lovely costumes, or the wonderful portrayal of the difficulties, humor, respect and co-operation between the classes. No those are wonderful and enjoyable but for something I really didn’t expect when I settled…..