Confronting the Devils That Live Within Me

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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“I trust everyone. I just don’t trust the devil inside them.” – John Bridger

This quote is from one of my top 10 favorite movies, “The Italian Job.” In it, John Bridger, played by Donald Sutherland, leads a band of thieves before turning control of the group over to Charlie, played by Mark Wahlberg. I’m probably one of 20 people who include the movie in their favorites. Oh well. It’s good, action-packed, and I thoroughly enjoy watching it every time it’s on TV.

I haven’t seen the movie in a few months, but for some reason, I started thinking about that quote recently. I don’t know if I was feeling down on myself because of the mental effects of sarcoidosis, or if I did something that really affected me. It might have been a combination of both.

In the movie, the devil inside several characters consists of greed, pride, and selfishness. I started thinking about my own life and what devils live within me.

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Certainly, living with sarcoidosis brings a level of self-pity. That could be one.

Selfishness could also be a devil inside me, because sarcoidosis would have me believe that I should keep everything I gain for myself only. Because I’m living with something bad, I deserve all the good that I receive, and I don’t need to share it.

I’ll think that people are only nice to me because of my illness. Not only is that selfish, but it’s also a mental handicap. I can’t tell you how many times folks have gone out of their way to accommodate my needs after seeing my handicap license plate or portable oxygen tank. If I don’t accept their kindness, I make sure to thank them and offer to reciprocate the favor.

Other devils I live with are regret, loneliness, and abandonment. When I was hospitalized for two months, I was alone, except for a few days when my wife and some family members checked on me. After I was released, I was pretty much confined to my house. That’s when loneliness started creeping in.

Shortly after that, I started regretting the life I now have because of sarcoidosis. The irony is that my condition was not my fault. Sarcoidosis found me, I didn’t look for it! I had to learn to live with this reality. Regret wouldn’t get me down, even though chronic health issues can make me want to quit on myself.

Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night, and my breathing is hard and labored. I feel like I’m trying to catch my breath. By breathing deliberately and slowly, I start to come around. There’s no reason this should be happening, so I’ve had to step back and evaluate my situation.

One issue is that I’m not doing enough during the day to make a difference in my life. This is called doubt. Doubt will take me out of the game faster than anything. Before I became ill, I was busy from 9 to 5. Now, being partially disabled, I have nothing productive to do except go to the gym, which keeps me physically and somewhat mentally stable. At times, I doubt if I’ll reclaim my independence.

For those of us with sarcoidosis, that little voice in our head acts as a devil of sorts. Confusion, fear, and procrastination can keep us from living a new life. Some opportunities are missed, others are squandered. What will your excuse be?

Remember, it’s the devil in a person that can’t be trusted, and we may distrust our own devils, too.

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Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

Comments

DebbraP avatar

DebbraP

Charlton, something in your article stands out with me; "Confusion, fear and procrastination can keep us from living a new life". You said "new life". And that's just it, having Sarcoidosis has forced into living a new life. But we'd like our old life back. So I feel anything we are able to do and how we feel about it (good or bad) is a part of this "forced" new life and not because we have the devil inside us.

If we really didn't want to be here we wouldn't be. But the fact that we are I think shows strength and that is something positive. We are imperfect. Always were. And now that we have an illness, we'd like our old imperfect lives back. I don't quite know how but I think as we go along we can take our imperfect behind's with us such as we had in our old life. I don't doubt myself but rather, I am learning my limits. I accept them to avoid being out of breath or embarrassing side effects from shortness of breath. As I learn, I do things a little better and they become easier but nonetheless, I still have limits. I don't have the strength or the time to fight a devil inside me. I just do what I can and if I can't do something, maybe I will be able to another time. No devil holding me back.

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Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Hi Debra, Thanks for your response. By no means was I diminishing what our lives have become of sarcoidosis; I was merely pointing out (at least with me) that there are certain "obstacles" that are more prevalent now since having a "new life". Before my "new life", I had no problem chasing my dreams and living the life I had which included swimming, biking, walking my dog, and just walking in general. Once I loaded up my iPod, I could walk for miles-and usually did. With the changes I've developed over the past 3 years, those things aren't possible, at least without supplemental oxygen. Needless to say I've become more cautious about doing some things because I'm second-guessing my abilities. That's the overall point I was trying to make. During this adventure, we're all second-guessing our abilities due to our health concerns; however, knowing that we can't have the life we once had shouldn't stop us from continuing to enjoy the life that we do have-changes and all. If you're laughing, smiling, thinking, and doing for yourself, you're still living. I'd love to have my old life back, but maybe this "new me" was what was needed for me and the world!
Peace and Blessings!

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DebbraP avatar

DebbraP

Charlton, being more cautious is a part of our new life now. I'd hate to see what would happen if we weren't. I think we need to give ourselves more credit than we do (because it seems nobody else will). Any little thing I am able to do I put into the "positive bucket". I try to fill that bucket. But if I don't, I don't. That's why some days the bucket is larger than yesterday's. It varies like I do now. We shouldn't feel guilty or inadequate or even like a failure if we don't put anything into the bucket. And I don't think we should feel as though it was some "bad" side of ourselves or a demon that prevented us from filling the bucket. We have Sarcoidosis. And according to our own level of severity of it, we are learning to live with it. Have faith. I've read your story and considering your diagnosis and medical issues I think of you and say, "that guy is doing pretty well". Maybe like so many of us Sarkies, you need to hear that more often. I know I sure do. Take care and I wish you many more Blessings!

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Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Thank you for your kind words, Debbra. Some days are better than others, but the most important thing is that I have another day to "try" to get it right and to live the best I can.
Take care and Blessings to you too, we'll get through this!
-C-

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Marc Chase avatar

Marc Chase

Somehow, I'm 65 years old. I have cardiac and neurogenic sarcoidosis.
One therapist asked if I'd thought, "Why me"? He offered, "Why not you"?
Thanks for sharing your beautiful words.

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Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Thank you for reading!

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