Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

You’ll Know When It’s Time

There are times when watching television that I wish I were a television writer.  Every so often there are poignant moments that really capture the true essence of an idea.  These moments, although far and few between, are the springboard or catalyst for eliminating the feelings of isolation associated with illness.

I was watching an old episode of “The West Wing”.  Throughout the episode there are flashbacks to the beginning of President Bartlett’s (played by Martin Sheen) presidential campaign.  During the primaries Mrs. Bartlett (played by Stockard Channing) talks to one of the key campaign personnel.  Their discussion is about how poorly the candidate is treating the staff.  The candidate’s wife says to the campaign director “He’s not ready yet, he’s terrified”.  The campaign director asks “Will he be ready?” and the the wife responds “You bet he will”.   Later in the episode the campaign director’s father dies and Bartlett shows up at the airport to console the campaign director.  Bartlett then turns to his chief of staff and says “I’m ready”.

I know it seems like a big set up for the simple phrase, but I thought it really captured the process that many go through following their illness diagnosis.  There is the initial shock and fear and that may last some time.  The important thing is that at some point you’ll know when it’s time to make a conscious choice to get well.  You’ll know when it’s time to make a conscious choice to make your health your primary focus, and not just some treatment you have to get through.  It will be a moment that you’ll remember forever because it is one of the biggest proclamations you’ll ever make in your life.

I can’t tell you when it will happen or how it will happen, but I can tell you it will happen.  It will happen because it has to happen.  Your mind, body and spirit need to be in alignment so you have the best odds possible.  Even those whose illness is irreversible or terminal will have this moment because the proclamation is a legacy to be left to your family, friends and community.

Don’t sit around waiting for that moment because it creeps up on you and then hits you like a bolt of lightning.  Once it hits there is a new sense of purpose that ignites in the soul.

Have you had that proclamation moment?  What was it like?  What have you done differently since that moment?  Please share your stories so that those who haven’t had that moment yet have hope that it will arrive for them too!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s