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

Why Are We So Caught Up in Reality TV?

I have to admit that when it comes to television; I’m hooked on reality shows related to singing and dancing.  I’ve been watching NBC’s The Voice, and they are down to the final four.  These four are competing for a record contract, and of course, fame.  What I like about this show is that they don’t have an age limit, so it’s really about the talent, not the teenybopper vote.

I’ve heard Anderson Cooper confess that he’s a reality television junkie.  I guess when you cover tragedy all over the globe; reality television is a break from reality.  So why do we need to escape from reality?

Those of you who have been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness know how hard life can be since the diagnosis.  It makes you wonder how much more real can you get than living your life filled with doctors appointments, lab tests, and trips to the pharmacy.  Being in your body is as real as it gets, so why don’t you have your own reality television show?

It’s interesting how illness can be a storyline on a television show, but not the focus of the show.  Obviously there have been illness specific movies or theater productions focusing on illness such as WIT or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but no network or cable show focusing on the reality of real life illness.

I’m grateful when actors such as Michael J. Fox are guests on talk shows because he discusses the reality of living with illness.  He gives an unfiltered account of his life with Parkinson’s disease, and how he prepares himself when he has to go to work.  That’s as real as it gets!

Everyone in life has some type of struggle, but illness poses unique challenges.  It impacts not only you but also your family.  It can physically separate you from others, more out of fear and ignorance than from malicious intent.  You’re often misunderstood because throughout the day your life may revolve around other things than going to the grocery store and picking up the kids from soccer.  It’s multifaceted and often feels like a tightrope act.

When you’re watching reality television, please give yourself credit for living a life that is more real and more important than any program on television.  Become the success you are striving for and that will prevent you from being voted off the island!


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.

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