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Are You a Capable Person? What Does That Even Mean?

A Chronic aAre You a Capable Person? What Does That Even Mean? | A Chronic VoiceVoice: What is Capability, Really?

The Modern Day Definition of Capability

One of the definitions of the word ‘capable’ yields, “having power and ability; efficient; competent”. How does modern society perceive this? Perhaps you might picture a powerful woman, who not only leads a multinational corporation, but also has three kids, a dog and runs half marathons on a regular basis. Or perhaps you might picture an enterprising entrepreneur, who has set up 10 companies across the globe, travels at every oppinportunity, and squeezes time for every drop of usefulness he can get out of it. Whichever persona you have in your head, is probably one who is on the go, the epitome of activity.

What if I showed you a picture of someone who is lying in bed, feeling defeated by depression? Or someone who is in pain, crawling to the bathroom only 10 steps away? Would these people fit into your category of ‘capable’? Probably not. They already need so much help to achieve simple tasks, how could they accomplish more?

The Unreliability of Our Thoughts

Many of those who struggle with mental symptoms know just how unreliable a feeling can be. Can you trust yourself? The anxiety or even euphoria you experience, might be a result of inflammation in the brain, a hormonal imbalance, or something else. As a result, we have developed defensive mechanisms to help us differentiate between fiction and reality.

Think of it this way – there is a raging fire somewhere in your body, and it is spreading fast. Your body’s control centre, the brain, sends out distress signals. This creates a chain effect of reactions; your body works as a single unit. Thinking happy thoughts will keep your hopes up, but that doesn’t mean the fire will stop burning. The smoke produced can be suffocating, no matter how much willpower and desire you have to escape. Sometimes your own buckets of water aren’t enough to put the fire out, and you need the help of professional firefighters. They often come in the form of therapy, medications and more.

The Future of Experiencing

Many of those who are on medications know how one small pill can manipulate your current state of wellbeing, for better or for worse. This futuristic exoskeleton is very interesting – it allows you to experience what old age might be like, by mimicking arthritis, hearing loss and blindness.

I hope that in future we will be able to experience a wide assortment of ailments through simple means. A box of colourful pills: ‘pick one to mimic the effects of an illness for a day’. To let people experience first hand, what it’s like to live with chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, joint pains and more. And to realise how much difference tweaking just one chemical or protein in your body can make. It is both dreadful and mind blowing. You will realise that sometimes, you are no match for your own body.

Struggling With Dark Thoughts

There are people who are struggling with this single thought right now, “To kill or not to kill myself?”

Isn’t that pathetic? They should try to distract themselves. Fill their time with sports, the endorphins will help. Immerse themselves in hobbies, pleasant activities are good for you. See some friends, we are social creatures. Do something, anything, except lie there drenched in the excrement of self pity.

But the fact that they haven’t ended their life yet is one hell of an amazing feat. You may or may not ever comprehend their level of physical or mental pain, but there is a boiling point. The word ‘clinging’ sounds feeble; it is often associated with infants or children attached to their mothers. But have you ever tried clinging onto life when pain is all there is? When there might be nothing left to live for? When life has lost all meaning?

Capability is to pursue life, but sometimes that means focussing inwards and not pushing outwards. To preserve yourself and survive. Especially when your body is at civil war, and your mind is a traitor playing tricks. To lie there in all your defeat and hopelessness, while clinging onto life for no clear reason. If that isn’t capability, then I don’t know what is.

“Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.” – Corita Kent

    For More Insight:

  1. Are Mental Illnesses Caused by “Chemical Imbalances?” (article on Pete Earley):
  2. 81 Awesome Mental Health Resources When You Can’t Afford a Therapist (article on Greatist):
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Why the modern day definition of capability is incomplete, and reconnecting with its roots. Dedicated to those who are struggling with dark thoughts now. | A Chronic Voice


  • I believed we are all capable of something great we just have to trust ourselves more and do it. Excellent read and I enjoy it. Thanks for sharing.

  • […] don’t have to be young or able-bodied to be capable, says the author of “Are You Capable? And What Does That Even Mean?”  (identified only as “Sheryl”).  The founder of A Chronic Voice, Sheryl […]

  • This is a beautiful post. For me, apart from our skills and skills, the capability is the power from within. Something that drives us to move forward.

  • When faced with adversity, in whatever shape it comes, we are all so much more capable than we may feel or even appear. Human spirit and our survival instincts are the essence of capability.

  • Really interesting piece. As a family we are all too familiar with mental capability and dark thoughts – me with long term chronic illness, hubby having had a breakdown, and now adolescents….one having a major crash during first year uni, another now on antidepressants & self harming ahead of A levels, and the 3rd with major anxiety. Doesn’t make me feel great as a mum when I received a letter detailing an assessment and listing out all our family issues!! But we have to work through it don’t we, and teach our kids too. Thanks for sharing on #Chronic Pain & chronic illness linkup party!

    • Hi Claire,

      I am very sorry to hear how each and every member of your family is struggling with issues, it definitely sounds more than a handful. Well done for even coping up to here. Yes I agree with you…all we can do is try our best, and hope our children (I have none but hopefully in future!) learn from our examples. You are most welcome and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and life.

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