I’ve been in excruciating pain the past few days. Like my past New Year’s Eves, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome decided to crash my holiday. Combined with the Myasthenia Gravis, (MG) an autoimmune disease, my pain has made me scream and cry. But this New Year’s Eve was also my best ever because I was not alone. I hosted an Online NYE Party for people during The Twilight Zone Marathon on SyFy (which lasted two days) so no one would have to be alone. Fifty guests arrived on Facebook—while some people were healthy, half the guests had illnesses including Fibromyalgia, Lupus, MG, Crohn’s Disease, CRPS, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s, Hypothyroidism, and Bipolar Disorder (like me).
Guests in different continents posted our thoughts live as we watched the same episodes. I met some terrific people. (SPOILER ALERT: Points 1 and 2 discuss the plots of two classic TZ episodes.)
3 Lessons from The Twilight Zone On Life (useful for sick and healthy people):
1. Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder: In the classic episode, Eye of the Beholder, TZ makes us question who decides what is beautiful . As someone who was insulted for my appearance after illness changed it, this episode is close to my heart. It features a bandaged woman, Janet, who is getting her eleventh (!) cosmetic surgery to look like everyone else. Throughout the episode we hear doctors and nurses talk about how deformed she looks. After surgery, the doctors say there is nothing they can do—she will always be ugly. The episode ends with Janet’s bandages finally coming off. Gasp! She looks like Marilyn Monroe. This week we had a bizarre incident reminiscent of this episode. Comedian Jay Mohr called actress Alyssa Milano fat and joked about her appearance. (Below, you can see what Alyssa looks like.) What was Jay thinking? Most people would say Milano is beautiful but Jay’s comments remind us that there will always be critics. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. (Thankfully, after Alyssa’s classy response to the insults, Jay apologized.)
2. Fear Destroys: In episodes like The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, driven by fear, good people make destructive decisions. Monsters starts out with children playing and neighbors talking to each other. They appear happy until their electricity is turned off. One neighbor recalls a story he read about aliens posing as humans. In a state of paranoia, the friends all turn on each other. Almost everyone is accused of being an alien. One resident is fatally shot because of the hysteria. The episode climaxes with riots everywhere. Chaos. Finally, we see two aliens talking on a distant hilltop. They say that it’s so easy to conquer earth because humans are their own worst enemy. I’ve seen how illness and the uncertainty it brings can inspire fear in people. The same year I became ill, my mom’s friend was diagnosed with cancer. For months she refused to have treatment because, well, it’s hella painful. The day she finally agreed to it, she died. It was too late. I know that getting treated is not a guarantee that a person will live. But being afraid to the point of inaction can kill. Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to act despite it.
3. Technology Fosters Community: Without the Internet, I wouldn’t even know anyone with MG—MG only happens to 1 in 100,000 people. Even people with common illnesses need community. We weren’t meant to walk through life alone. Through this blog, I’ve even met healthy people who are searching for community. Sometimes we find community in the most unlikely places like The Twilight Zone. Here are a few quotes from guests:
Jersey Steve, “This [party] just goes to show that there are people with common interests all over the country, if not the world.”
Angela Crewe, “Technology has brought us together from around the world, to not only celebrate holidays, but also to exchange information, provide and receive support and to foster a sense of ‘you are not alone in this!’”
Sr. Paula Vaghi, “We are all part of a much larger community as we widen our tents. Technology brings us together as a diverse community in so many good ways.”
We’re on Facebook! Join the Fashionably ill community at: https://www.facebook.com/fashionablyill.
(P.S. For the guests who attended and have asked if we will have another marathon next NYE or some other holiday, the answer is YES! Yes we will.)