Having Determination Does Not Always Equal Curing a Disease

© a rainbow at night
© a rainbow at night

I don’t think some people are prepared to hear that determination alone is not enough to beat a disease. You can do everything right and still get worse, and it’s not your fault.

You can’t say being motivated and refusing your circumstances–“I got better because I wouldn’t settle for anything less!”–is going to get everyone well, because it gives those who aren’t so lucky the delusion that they’re somehow responsible.

This post is for you.

The people who stay sick still matter. The people who die from their disease still matter. It is not your fault.

No one talks about these things out of fear of being attacked for it… I guess it’s a lesson to be learned by those who have that journey. As Oscar Wilde said, “Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

a rainbow at night


12 thoughts on “Having Determination Does Not Always Equal Curing a Disease

  1. This also works for unemployeed people! I know someone who on my Facebook is having this same thing happen. He applied here there and everywhere and it isn’t his fault he is still jobless, and he had been going to all the retail places he could! I do think it’s unfair that people say things that determination will get you here or there but in reality not everyone’s story is a happy ending.
    I don’t want to sound like a downer or an ass but not everyone can have a happy movie kind of ending.
    I wish people would report more on that matter. Happy and sad endings ARE both equally important.


    1. I’m always amazed at your ability to take what I say as a person who is sick, and transform it into a lesson for people who are not sick/disabled.

      What you said is very true! I don’t think anyone can get anything accomplished without determination, but to suggest that a person got where they did just because they tried hard enough, is a delusion. There are so many other factors involved, and if we’re going to be truly inspiring, I think we have to say, “Don’t give up on what you want, but if it turns out that you’re still not getting it even if you’ve tried, that is okay; you’re not a failure because of the things you cannot control.”


  2. I applaud your compassion, Its so important that nobody should be made to feel to blame for their illness or for not getting better!

    Infact powerful determination can often be counterproductive with ME/CFS, it made me push too hard when I really needed to rest. I had to learn how to accept the way things were and make appropriate adjustments. But its also important to keep hope: To believe that one day things might get better, and to take responsibility for doing what you can in the here and now to make the most of your situation. I got better completely better once for 7 years! This time although my symptoms are mild my rate of recovery seems really slow. I know thats not my fault and I believe I will get better again, but i also believe that i can take resposibility for trying to heal myself. I know I’m lucky to have enough energy to do this though!


    1. Applauded for compassion? If only the entire world worked like that, lol! Nobel peace prizes for everyone. :)

      To believe that one day things might get better, and to take responsibility for doing what you can in the here and now to make the most of your situation.

      Such a beautiful, perfect statement! I went into remission, too. Most people with M.E. do, I’ve noticed, at least once–mostly around after 4 years, and/or 10 years of illness. I have hope that one day I might experience it again, and I do all that I can do ensure I have some type of future (i.e., not making myself worse is practically all that’s in my control with this disease, and that still counts). But if it doesn’t, I refuse to tell myself OR be told by others that I just need to be more determined. I don’t want others accepting that false sense of responsibility, either.

      Thank you, it’s always a pleasure to hear your thoughts. :)


  3. I agree with the article and the comment above. Sadly many people equate mental strength and determination as the most important things in making you better, unfortunately many people with cancer have fond to their cost that that this just isn’t the case, you can be as positive as you like (or probably negative for that matter) and all that counts is the state of your biochemistry and your immune system when it comes to getting better. The general public expect people with cancer to ‘fight it’ to win the battle, but that absolutely doesn’t mean that if you didn’t fight hard enough or want to live enough then you were responsible for your own death. We have enough pressure on us as it is without healthy people telling us how to deal with long term ill health, something they probably have never had and know nothing about. It’s really just a throw away line of ignorance, ‘you have to battle to beat your ill health’ they should speak to a doctor!


    1. You know what? There was actually a study done on the effects of mental outlook on cancer survival. I wish I could quote it because I hate mentioning articles and not actually HAVING the article to back me up, but, it was when I was in university.

      The results showed that the group of people who despaired and despaired, faired the worst–makes sense, adding more stress and inflammation to an already-stressed-and-inflamed body. The surprising thing was that these other two groups did the best: Those who had an outlook of “I will beat this,” and those who had an outlook of basically, “Cancer? What cancer? I’ll get chemo and I’ll be fine, no sickness here.” In other words, people who were in serious denial faired as well as those who were optimistic!

      The conclusion being, how much we stress ourselves out over our outlook, has far more to do with it than the outlook itself. Perhaps this is a lesson on simply keeping your peace, however you manage to do it. One person might not be able to handle the thought that they can’t control what their disease does. Others might have come to a point where they realize there is only so much you can do, and are able to accept that–for them, living in denial might make them worse, and cause more suffering.

      All in all, like you say, finding what brings us the most stable mindframe will give us the best chance, but DOES NOT guarantee a “success story.” Thank you for your words!


  4. If determination cured this illness, I would have been back to full health within 6 weeks of becoming ill…or the following 6 weeks…or within the next 6 months (while I truely expected to wake up one morning and be back to my previous robust health)…or any of a dozen hundred times over the past 30 years.

    If only


    1. Completely true. Those of us who were perfectionists before we became ill understand this best, I think. The mindframe of “if I just put my mind to it, things will work out how I want them to,” had always worked for us in the past. But it’s entirely different dealing with a disease like M.E. that can literally kill you for pushing yourself too far, and it might even be worse for those who CAN push themselves without such consequences, because it gives them a greater sense of faux-responsibility for the outcome, especially if that outcome is in fact worsening health.

      I know I thought for a long time that if I just did everything everyone said I should–eat this way, take those pills, think like this, DON’T eat this way, DON’T take those pills, DON’T think like that, etc.–then I could take things back into my own hands and get better, because if anyone had motivation, it was me. I was going to do everything “right” and it was going to work. But that didn’t happen.

      Yes I was doing a lot of right things, but I got worse and worse because of things outside my control. What got me better was getting biological treatment for my physical disease and the cards falling in the right order; I didn’t “will” myself to improve no more than I willed myself to decline. Determination helps us to keep going in the direction of what we desire, but it is not our fault if determination is not enough. (And I do believe in God, so I believe my improvement was intended, perhaps just like my temporary worsening was, as well. Disease is a part of life and I’m a completely different, happier person after that ordeal.)


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