Prince William reportedly ‘threw Harry out’ of charity foundation over Meghan Markle bullying claims
Prince William reportedly ‘threw Harry out’ of charity foundation over Meghan Markle bullying claims

Sarah Finnan

Utility room ideas: How to make it a calm space you won’t want to shut the door on
Utility room ideas: How to make it a calm space you won’t want to shut...

Lauren Heskin

‘I was advised not to have kids as there’s a high chance I could lose my leg’
‘I was advised not to have kids as there’s a high chance I could lose...

Jennifer McShane

A fitted kitchen isn’t your only option: Here’s why freestanding units are a good idea
A fitted kitchen isn’t your only option: Here’s why freestanding units are a good idea

Marlene Wessels

Summery interiors buys under €30 for every room in the house
Summery interiors buys under €30 for every room in the house

Megan Burns

Day tripper: places to visit that are under a few hours from Cork City
Day tripper: places to visit that are under a few hours from Cork City

Sarah Finnan

‘I noticed the tiniest freckle on my ankle’: A young woman opens up about her skin cancer diagnosis
‘I noticed the tiniest freckle on my ankle’: A young woman opens up about her...

IMAGE

‘Suddenly alive again’: The heartbreaking joy of finding a deceased loved one on Google Maps street view
‘Suddenly alive again’: The heartbreaking joy of finding a deceased loved one on Google Maps...

Amanda Cassidy

7 different school tour ideas to help you see out the year on a high
7 different school tour ideas to help you see out the year on a high

Sarah Finnan

‘We tried everything to get her heart beating’: Doctor who tried to save Princess Diana
‘We tried everything to get her heart beating’: Doctor who tried to save Princess Diana

Jennifer McShane

Image / Editorial

‘He’s a fighter’: the language we use around illness needs an update


by Erin Lindsay
08th Apr 2020
blank

Boris Johnson has been described as a ‘fighter’ while in intensive care with Covid-19. But do all these fighting words really relate to illness as we know it?


As sickness becomes a state we are all far too familiar with, the news came that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had contracted coronavirus. Many famous faces have fallen ill with the virus since the beginning of its global spread earlier this year, with almost all of them making full recoveries.

The public was understandably shocked when, earlier this week, news broke that Johnson was, in fact, not recovering as planned. The prime minister was in fact admitted to intensive care and had to be put on oxygen to help his breathing while in hospital.

Since Johnson was admitted to hospital, the UK public and government have flooded social media with their well wishes towards him, and rightly so. However, we have also seen a spike in the age-old language typically used around illness – describing Johnson as a ‘fighter’, ‘battling’ his condition. That probably needs an update.

Tired and scared

Terms like ‘fighter’ and ‘battling’ an illness takes credit away from those facing an illness (like most of us do) – tired, scared, and jaded. We don’t celebrate illness as an opportunity to ride into glorious battle. Illness, depending on its severity, can be terrifying. It can drain every ounce of effort and motivation out of you, both mentally and physically.

When you’re seriously ill, you don’t wake up every morning raring to go. You wake up fatigued at the thought of another day of the illness. You find some basic tasks difficult, you have to rest a lot more. You get frustrated with yourself, and others. Pain is ever-present, sometimes in both body and mind. Illness is not a celebration. It’s tough, and you’d rather be doing anything else than dealing with it.

Class divide

The coverage of Johnson’s condition also distracts from the fact that, although he is very ill, Boris Johnson does benefit from a distinct class and financial privilege that many others in the UK, and the world, do not have access to. As the Prime Minister, and as someone who is very wealthy, Johnson will have access to the best medical care on offer.

He will not have to go through the regular wait periods and emergency services to receive care. He will not be subject to difficult decisions that doctors have to make about which patients can get treated and which can’t. In short, yes, Johnson will have to ‘fight’ his way better – but other patients will have to fight harder.

Retreat and rest

It’s true that to return to good health after a serious illness, it does take immeasurable strength to do so. But is someone to feel guilty or less than if, even with all the strength they could muster, they did not ‘beat’ their condition? Illness does not discriminate – the healthiest person can be snuffed out in the blink of an eye, while a frail, elderly person can live to tell the tale. This is not a measure of how well they ‘fought’ or how ‘strong’ they were – sometimes, there is no answer to why one person recovers from an illness and another doesn’t.

Illness does not have to be an opportunity to prove yourself. You don’t have to show how tough you are, how much burden you can take before cracking. Illness, in reality, is for the opposite. It’s a time to retreat, to rest, to allow yourself to feel the enormity of your feelings and work through them, rather than stamping them out in an effort to appear tougher.

If you are dealing with coronavirus right now, or any illness, of any length or severity, please stop worrying about ‘staying strong’ and ‘fighting’ your way to health. Now is a time to be kind to yourself – comfort yourself, heal yourself, be gentle with yourself. Illness is not a battle for grandeur – it’s just a process for you to navigate as best you can.


Read moreThe myth of productivity during a global pandemic

Read more: To mask or not to mask: a guide to facewear during Covid-19

Read more: Opinion: ‘Everyone else seems to be doing isolation better and more fashionably than me’

Also Read

blank
EDITORIAL
Chrissy Teigen’s past trolling tweets highlight the slut-shaming culture we tolerated

Chrissy Teigen is the queen of oversharing. Usually it’s in...

By Amanda Cassidy

blank
EDITORIAL
Book gift ideas for every kind of reader

Anyone who said books and socks make for boring gifts...

By Amanda Kavanagh

blank
EDITORIAL
Emerging after the pandemic: ‘There’s an awkwardness to my interactions, like I’ve forgotten how to socialise’

In just a few months, human contact became one of...

By Amanda Cassidy

shells cafe
EDITORIAL
A Sligo cottage is transformed into a cool and cosy surfers’ haven

Still one of our favourite homes ever, the easy-breezy interiors...

By IMAGE Interiors & Living

blank
EDITORIAL
‘We went to the zoo today – and life felt deliciously normal’

What’s seldom is truly wonderful, writes Amanda Cassidy Dublin Zoo...

By Amanda Cassidy

abgc_architects_aoife_herrity
EDITORIAL
A plain extension in Dublin 8 provides a blank canvas for a design-minded couple

ABGC Architects were enlisted to transform a large white box...

By Amanda Kavanagh

Women with MS who take medication, especially immunosuppressants, cannot become pregnant unless they come off medication.
premium HEALTH & WELLNESS, REAL-LIFE STORIES
I had to weigh up the possibility of losing my mind against losing my future children

Holograms of the children she may never have dance across Dearbhla Crosses' mind as an MS diagnosis and Covid-19 are unwelcome reminders of her biological clock ticking.

By Dearbhla Crosse