I get sick all the time; that’s how it’s always been. I don’t think I’ve ever gone two months without catching some sort of cold or virus. You’d think that since I’m always sick, I’d be used to it — that I’d be completely functional with a simple chest cold — but even the smallest cold is absolutely miserable for me. My friends and family members deal with sickness differently, and I've only recently realized that this isn't a bad thing; there are four types of sick people, and one type isn't better than the others.
1. The zombie
When I'm sick, I just want to lie in bed and watch Netflix, eat hot soup, and drink peppermint tea, and I want someone to wait on me hand and foot. I’ve always considered myself to be weak because of this. The truth is that turning into a sweaty, coughing, sniffling zombie when you’re sick doesn’t mean you are weak-minded. For us zombies, a little guilty-pleasure TV and a whole lot of sleep is often just what the doctor ordered.
2. The survivor
This is the person who powers through the pain and never takes a sick day. And this is often the person who's the most miserable. Showering and getting dressed and going outside can do wonders for a cold, but as soon as you sit down in a stuffy classroom, the congestion comes flooding back and Econ 200 transforms into hell (just kidding, it was hell to begin with). My best friend is a survivor. She has a serious immune disorder, which means she’s always sick, but she doesn’t let it stop her from having fun and doing amazing things, and I admire her so much because of it.
3. The complainer
Sometimes the best thing for a sick person, besides water and rest of course, is sympathy. It’s much easier to stay strong when you know that your friends or your family members have your back. My dad used to tell me that I wasn’t actually sick when I complained — that I was exaggerating or faking my symptoms for attention. This made me feel awful. I was of course angry at him for delegitimizing my sickness, but, more, I felt alone and ashamed for wanting sympathy. A couple of years ago, I confronted him about the way he treated me when I was sick and I told him how it made me feel, and being the smart, always self-improving dad that he is, he promised to try to be better (and he has been). It’s hard for people who aren’t really affected by colds to understand just how miserable the common cold can be for the rest of us.Of course, complaining is healthy only to a certain extent. You don’t want to have a negative mindset all the time when you’re sick, and you also don’t want to be annoying. But there’s no harm in relaying your symptoms to your closest friends for a little encouragement to help you get through the day.
4. The barely even sick one
Okay, the GIF is misleading. (But who doesn't love a good Mean Girls GIF?) I'm not talking about the person who pretends to be sick — I'm talking about the person who is sick but barely notices it. When I get a terrible cold, I feel like I’m dying. But when my brother and my dad catch the same cold, they don’t even mention it. They continue about their daily routines like nothing is wrong, and only when you point out that their voice is hoarse and they’re sniffing a lot will they admit that they are sick. This isn’t because they’re hiding their true feelings of misery — it’s because they aren’t miserable. People just aren’t affected by colds in the same way.To my fellow zombies and complainers: Keep on doing you. It’s okay to hate colds with a fiery passion, and it’s okay to want a little sympathy sometimes. And to the survivors, or those of you who think that colds are no biggie: Remember that everyone experiences sickness differently, so be understanding.