My appreciation for Jodi Picoult has grown in the last couple years. She takes difficult topics and invites readers to contemplate them in ways they might not have otherwise. This story takes a common issue that we tend to not notice. Looking at racism through the eyes of a black nurse on trial, a white nationalist putting that nurse on trial while grieving his son’s death, and the nurse’s lawyer who witnesses prejudice she didn’t realize existed I noticed we all hold more prejudice than we like to think. As the characters interact with each other, they gain deeper understandings of all; I also gained an awareness of my own blind spots and felt encouraged to deepen my empathy. Each person faces very real obstacles, and each person has room to grow. This applies to readers as well. Though tough to read at points, I’m glad Picoult examined such a full spectrum of experiences and urged readers to consider where their perspectives fall and where they may grow in empathy.
allergies, alone, anaphylaxis, anxiety, cliche, communication, depression, empathy, family, friends, happiness, health, heart, help, ignorance, improvement, issues, life, long distance, mind, PTSD, reaction, sensitive, sensitivity, support, sympathy
I kid that I am sensitive in every meaning of the word and to obnoxious extents. For example, I have a long list of foods that cause allergic reactions, including several items that push my body to the extreme in anaphylaxis. My feelings don’t differ too much unfortunately despite how strong I appear or am. Just like I can’t control that certain snacks potentially could kill me, I can’t anymore control that my brain has a chemical imbalance stemming from biological factors as well as responses to past experiences. None of these things should be held against me, yet I can’t tell you how many times those reactions have been brushed off as insignificant. The added weight of all this discredit makes me want to distance myself from people right now.
I’m smart enough to know I shouldn’t take it to heart when I get asked twenty times a day why I wear gloves while working at Home Depot. No, I’m not doing forensics or surgery. No, it’s not because I have OCD (the person you asked while pointing at me can tell you that too). These people don’t mean to “poke” me as I say. It’s unusual, and they’re curious. Maybe they also missed their class on decorum. Yet when the amount of “pokes” increases, it ends up leaving a small bruise. I simply try to protect my skin from further inflammation or from an infection from exposing it raw to money, the FILTHIEST item on the planet.
Now I need to protect my heart and mind even more than usual. Unfortunately, depression has a lot of mystery and misunderstanding surrounding it. It’s easy for someone to look at a victim and accuse them of being lazy or to tell that person to “just get over it and be happy.” If it the solution or cure held such simplicity, no problem would exist. Wellmeaninged people have told me these very sentiments. Those “suggestions” do not prove fruitful. What seems to hurt most, whether aimed at a depressed or non-depressed person, is feelings getting dismissed. Even if they’re tears spilled over a dead squirrel on the road, they’re legitimate tears. Telling your loved one otherwise may result in that person creating distance between you and him or her or may lead them to guard themselves more.
Some people, like me, have to closely monitor what they eat in the interest of preserving their lives. Anaphylaxis is a serious issue, and so is depression. It sucks that something so simple can cause so much damage. Trust me; I know. I recently have visited the ER for a nice drug cocktail injected right into my veins after eating a salad. Yes, a simple healthy salad could have killed me. I don’t mean to be morbid, but depression, anxiety and PTSD symptoms kill people too. So I have to protect myself.
Life is tough. The cliche is true. We should move on and be happy. That’s true too. The so called advice people share has a good ring to it. Yet life holds no such simplicity. People eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all the time. I’d be in incredibly serious danger if I decided to have one for my lunch. I sure hope someone wouldn’t be ignorant enough to tell me, “People eat these all the time. You shouldn’t be blocking your airwaves. Get up and continue living” if I accidentally consumed one. I hope someone doesn’t say something similar the next time I sit immobile while crying in the dark. I’d rather not make myself live life alone and make the feeling of being alone true.