An interesting fact about white people is that they firmly believe that all of the world’s problems can be solved through “awareness.” Meaning the process of making other people aware of problems, and then magically someone else like the government will fix it.
--Christian Lander, Stuff White People Like
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be actively involved in an awareness campaign -- for anything -- I would have laughed. I always felt they were pointless. A poster or bumper sticker with one of those ubiquitous ribbons would hit my line of vision and I'd think, "Yeah, OK. You have succeeded in bringing [name of disease or social issue] to the forefront of my consciousness. I am now aware. How exactly does that help?"
I wish I could feel that way about myalgic encephalomyelitis (aka ME, aka ME/CFS, aka "chronic fatigue syndrome"), a debilitating disease that causes considerable pain, crushing fatigue, and shorter life expectancy. Instead of raising awareness, I want us to raise money to find a cure.
But it doesn't work like that. Money's tight, and if we're to convince anyone to part with it through donations or taxes, they need to understand that ME/CFS is a real thing. Despite popular misconceptions, it's not just being tired, it's not hypochondria, and it's not psychosomatic.
Awareness doesn't amount to an instant cure, of course. But it makes a big difference to those who are waiting for one. With a better-informed populace, people with ME/CFS wouldn't have to ...
- deal with skepticism and scorn from their own friends and family.
- explain for the upteenth time how they really do feel sick, even though they don't look sick.
- educate their own doctors about the disease, or deal with doctors who think it's all in their head.
So. Happy ME/CFS Awareness Day. Stay tuned: later I'll talk a little more about the consequences of ignorance ... and just how deep the ignorance goes.