My Problem with Me Before You

I made a mistake today. I had a couple of loads of laundry to fold, and I wasn’t feeling well. So I figured I’d put on a movie and fold clothes sitting down while the kids took their naps. I rarely do this, but it seemed like a good idea today. The mistake though, was the movie I chose. Me Before You.

Me Before You is about a young woman who gets a job as an aide and companion to a quadriplegic. Just by a quick look at the cover, I assumed this was a typical romance so I jumped in. Well… *SPOILER ALERT* I can’t explain why this was a bad movie choice for me without spoiling anything. Please don’t read on if you haven’t seen this movie and don’t want any spoilers.



In a nutshell, these two end up falling in love, and she finds out that he’s planning on ending his life. He says that he was always an active, happy person and he just can’t be that person stuck in a chair. He wants her to live her life with someone who can do things with her and take care of her. She tries to convince him otherwise, and fails. He can’t change his mind. And in a beautiful, spa-like room in Switzerland, they kiss, cuddle and confess their love for each other. She lies in his arms while the camera pans out and you know the nurse comes in for his final moments. It was peaceful, beautiful and romantic.

And that’s the problem. The movie itself was beautiful, and I don’t think that every romance should have a happy ending because that’s not realistic. But in this case… Romance movies featuring disabled people are rare. In this, I found myself wondering if I’d be willing to love someone in the same situation. I felt like I could. I imagine that this movie may have caused others to think of the same thing, which is great! People with such glaring disabilities are often viewed as different. Many admit that others don’t see them as sexual beings in any way, and finding love is extremely difficult for them. Movies like this make people see the side that many don’t consider.

Until the end. Wills determination to end his life was not about depression. It was not an illness that was going to kill him. I’m not going to claim I have any idea what someone in that situation might be feeling. But he had a choice to keep going. He was never going to get better, never going to walk again or do things for himself. But he found love. The one thing that people with severe disabilities would die for. He gave that up.

It’s not about his personal choice to die. It’s the way the movie portrayed it. There were numerous flashbacks to his life before his accident, about how active and happy he was. How many friends he had and the things he did that he could never do again. And after the accident, his girlfriend marries his best friend and everyone disappears. To be fair, they didn’t automatically abandon him. He pushes them away from the beginning. They are a reminder of what he can never have again.

But with the movie referring to everything he lost, and downplaying the most amazing relationship that he never thought he’d find, they minimize the humanity of that man in the wheelchair. It makes it feel like life would not be worth living in that situation, no matter what, so it’s better to die. Somehow, an amazing, beautiful love story turned into Hollywood convincing people that life is not worth living with a disability. They romanticized his suicide and made it seem like the most loving, selfless thing he could do. They made it look like he was a burden who was setting everyone free from the responsibility of caring for him.

I’ll admit, I don’t have a disability on that level. But I have struggled with thoughts of suicide. I had a lot of trouble watching someone choose that, on screen, to the influence of anyone wishing to watch. How would that make others feel, who are struggling with the same thoughts? Imagine people with similar disabilities who watched this, expecting hope and leaving instead with thoughts of suicidal ideation.

For anyone dealing with a disability, with a learning delay, a mental illness… You are NOT a burden. You ARE worth living, and worth being loved. Suicide is not beautiful. It is not peaceful and it is not selfless. It is also not selfish, and I understand the thought. I say all this because I need to hear it as well. But there are people who only need the tiniest bit of encouragement before they make that step. When someone is on the edge, a movie like this could be the tiny nudge to push them off.



Why I ignore good advice

As a stay at home mom of two young kids, I’ve got a lot to handle. Cleaning the house, cooking up a storm, changing diapers, chasing troublemakers and calming meltdowns. But since I’m at home, I always feel like I should be able to handle everything. I’m home almost all day. Why shouldn’t I get all the chores done? In my head I feel like a stepford mom. In my wildest dreams, my house would always be clean and organized. I’d always have a healthy dinner on the table that everyone would actually eat. My kids would get lots of playtime and I’d take them everywhere. Theyre only little for a little while right?

In reality, it’s not that easy. If I decide to sit down and work on some bills, my back starts to hurt from sitting too long. So then I’ll have to get comfy and rest a bit. If I try to clean the bathroom, my back will be roaring in pain by the time I’m done. So then I have to rest a bit. Whenever I need to do laundry, same thing. My back. Bending and folding and climbing three flights of stairs into my apartment multiple times… You know the drill by now. Same goes with any sort of cleaning, cooking, organizing. As I sit and type this, my lower back is already starting to protest. By the time I’m done, my neck will hurt from the angle I’m looking at the computer. I can’t win here.



So when I have people over, or I’m out somewhere and someone lovingly tells me to take it easy, or be careful when I try to lift something, I ignore them. When I’m playing a little too rough with the kids and someone tells me to be careful not to hurt myself, I smile, tell them I’m fine and play on. Especially when it comes to my kids. When they were babies, I would rock them for hours just to keep them happy. If my son was crying from colic, I’d be up half the night rocking him until I was sobbing in pain. Quietly, because he was finally asleep. I’ve made it such a habit to play with them however I want that I’ve noticed people have stopped warning me to slow down!

But I want my loved ones to know why. It’s not that I don’t appreciate your concern. It’s not because I think you are being nosey or judgy. I know that people only say it because they are concerned for me. But here’s the thing. If I do too much in a day, yes, I’ll be in pain.

“But pain is just pain.”

I’m not trying to sound tough. The truth is that I’m used to it, and I’ve missed out on too much already because I went through life slowly, afraid to hurt myself. I’m done doing that. Life is gonna keep going on with or without me and God knows, I’ve got plenty of other issues holding me back from living it. So when it comes down to it, I know that roughhousing with my kids is gonna cost me later. I know that cleaning my bathrooms today is gonna have me laying down with a heating pad before bed. I know that walking around a zoo or a fair for hours is gonna cause back spasms and that making snowmen in the cold will make my arthritis flare up. But pain is temporary. Just like life. Just like my little babies that are less little every day. When they are grown, my kids won’t remember me popping aleve with breakfast and dinner. They won’t remember my heating pads and my groans of pain after a long day. I don’t show them those things.

So yes, I know that how I live makes me hurt. But in the end, it’s more than worth it.