If you watch any TV at all, you've probably seen one of the ads in Bayer's "Simple Win" campaign for their blood glucose meters: mostly young people, famous or not, who have diabetes and are just thrilled that their life has one positive aspect due to an awesome meter.
Then there's another drug ad commercial campaign for a drug (Celebrex?) that relieves pain of some disease (rheumatoid arthritis?): older people happy to be able to play catch with their grandkids again, walk their dog, or just putter around the garden - thanks to this awesome drug (assumably) prescribed by their doctor.
Despite having different target markets and thus a different "feel", they're both about every day people who are now very happy in their daily lives because of pharmaceutical companies. It is presumed that these people were once unhappy. The anti-depressant commercials seem to be the only ones who try for any realism at all, with simplistic but accurate glimpses of a depressed person's life, followed by that person looking more relaxed, if not happy, as they interact with someone that was being ignored in the background of the earlier scenes. Still all very saccharin.
Thanks Don Draper.
But despite my disillusionment with drug companies, the under current of these campaigns hit home: medical conditions that affect you every hour of every day suck ass, and finding some relief that allows you to be normal again can be an amazing experience.
My health is a bit more complicated than such commercials can express - I have various ailments that feed on each other. Most notably, I have multiple conditions that cause pain and fatigue that, if not managed perfectly, add fuel to the fire that is my depression. Basically, I hurt and feel exhausted so I sit around with no energy for anything, making me listless and frustrated with my life until my depression flares up - sinking me into a hole of despair that makes me tired and listless. It is a difficult cycle to break, and even when managed properly, so easy to fall off the path and get sucked back into the mire again.
There is nothing simple about the process that I use to balance my life. Physically, it involves pain killers and daily naps, visits with multiple doctors who run lots of tests, and a detachment from people to keep to a minimum the likelihood of canceled plans and hurt feelings. Mentally, I take medication and see a therapist, I determine "triggers" that I avoid at all costs, I only keep sympathetic people in my life, I pray for days where I have the energy to get out of bed and the willpower to actually do it.
My daily life, hour by hour, minute to minute, is a constant balancing act as my various symptoms fight each other for control. Most days, I'm happy if I take a shower. Getting out of the house for any reason is energizing - if I can find the energy to leave. Going out with my husband or friends is bliss.
For quite some time now, willpower has been the weakest link in this chain. When the pain and fatigue and memories beat you down so that all you want to do is lie in bed, how do you find the willpower to get up, let alone go out or get anything accomplished that day.
A few days ago, I found a "Simple Win" that had nothing to do with willpower: I replaced our toilet seat. Seriously. When I couldn't bring myself to sit on my own toilet seat because of its sorry state, I went out to purchase a new one. I wrestled with removing the old one, taking multiple trips up and down the stairs for the right tools. I cleaned out the bolt holes of rust, then found myself so caught up in it that I had cleaned the entire toilet. I installed the new seat and tested the easy-removal-for-cleaning plastic clamps and saw that it was good. I endured an ouchie moment of knee pain to get up off the floor. I discovered that despite my fears, I didn't hurt anywhere or feel overly tired. There was a sense of accomplishment, multiplied by the fact that I had been avoiding this task for so long and now it was done with.
Would I be a happier person today if I had become a plumber? Um... no. But going out that night with my husband to see a movie felt extra indulgent. Simple Win, simple reward. I never thought I would ever describe my life as simple. But if simple makes me happy, I'll take it. Maybe I'll get a few more toilets in the house just so I can replace their seats on a regular basis. I've been looking for a way to teach myself to meditate, and it was in my bathroom the entire time!