I think we all know the famous line from Hamlet "to be, or not to be, that is the question" and " an undiscovered country whose bourne no travelers return - puzzles the will". It seems that hamlet is contemplating death and death is the undiscovered country. What lies after death is mysterious, unknown and yet to be discovered. We do not know what lies after death and that is why death is an 'undiscovered country'. People who die don't usually come back to tell us about it - do they?
'The Undiscovered Country' is also the title of the sixth feature film based on Star Trek. In this case the collapse of the Klingon Empire is imminent and the United Federation of Planets decides that this is an opportunity to finally negotiate a true, lasting peace with the Klingons. The Klingons are invited to dinner aboard the Starship Enterprise. This is a first and everyone is very tense and concerned about the unknown. Change and the unknown can be frightening. Gorkon gives a toast "to the undiscovered country" - the future - and of course Spock refers to the scene in Hamlet.
You might be wondering what all this has to do with becoming ill with a chronic illness like M.E.
So let me explain. We do not know what lies on the other side of good health. When we become ill we enter the unknown. We do not know what lies ahead. We travel into a country of chronic illness where nothing is the same. The unknown is frightening. We don't know how to deal with it. We don't know how to cope. We have to adjust and make changes. We have to learn about our illness. We become self experts. We have no choice as most doctors know little or nothing about this illness.
We enter the undiscovered country of pain, extreme fatigue, confusion, brain fog, isolation and uncertainty. We feel that our life has ended, slipping away and feel dead but still alive. It's no longer life as we knew it. We just survive.
Before I became ill in 2002/3 I knew nothing about M.E.
I had been a well, healthy and active person. Overnight it all changed and I entered that undiscovered country. I was scared. I thought my life was over. I felt so ill I thought that I was going to die. But I didn't. I had to adjust and change everything in my life. I had to learn as much as I could about what was wrong with me - not easy then without a computer and the internet.
Since then I've found out that my chances of recovery are almost zero and sometimes I feel as if death would indeed be preferable. Sadly it's a fact that there is a high suicide rate in M.E.
Since then I've discovered that there is little help, treatment or support. I've found much ignorance, lack of understanding and respect, much neglect, cruelty and prejudice.
I never asked to enter the undiscovered country but I'm here and there's no going back. So I have to continue to learn how to live in this country.
How do you?
The Undiscovered Country
I’ve travelled to the
Where nothing is the same
So my life has to change
A country that’s unknown
And where I feel alone
A country of no return
Where I have so much to learn
A country of chronic illness
Where I suffer pain and distress
A country of so much neglect,
Cruelty and lack of respect
A country of poor recovery
Little hope and much uncertainty
A country beset with confusion
And many left in isolation
A country where I feel dead but alive
No longer living yet somehow survive
From the French Femme xxx