What happens when you have an idealist personality with a chronic, progressive illness?
It isn’t a trick question.
Let me share what makes up the traits of a person referred to as an idealist first.
The following is an excerpt straight from the results of a personality inventory I have my introductory students take. You can see for yourself the potential issues an idealist might have with an incurable, chronic, and progressive illness.
Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. Such interpersonal harmony might be a romantic ideal, but then Idealists are incurable romantics who prefer to focus on what might be, rather than what is. The real, practical world is only a starting place for Idealists; they believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood. This idea of a mystical or spiritual dimension to life, the “not visible” or the “not yet” that can only be known through intuition or by a leap of faith, is far more important to Idealists than the world of material things.
When you have an idealist with a chronic illness, you have a very frustrated me.
While it is nice to be validated by an independent medical practitioner, I am not sure how I feel about hearing there is nothing else she or I can do.
In what became the longest appointment of all time today, I found great dissatisfaction in being validated. That has to be the first time I can honestly say such a thing.
“You are doing everything right. There really isn’t much else I can tell you to add.”
I heard this same exact thing from the physical therapist in November of last year. It was empowering to me then. Today, it wasn’t empowering at all. Because of the increase in the clonus and the jaw involvement, I was really hoping for something more.
Basically, what I heard today instead was, “Sorry about your luck. Wish I could help.” It came complete with the face and eyes of someone who felt compassionate and helpless about it. I almost felt bad for putting her in such a situation.
Can someone who dares to hope for what might be and what isn’t yet, able to accept this sort of feedback? I’ll keep you posted, but it probably isn’t all that likely.
If anyone is interested in taking the personality inventory, it is a free, valid and reliable inventory.