The Black Lupus Wolf on My Shoulder That Urges Me to Make Bad Health Decisions

At the crossroads of a tough decision we often find ourselves in need of a little guidance. It’s generally pictured as a heated debate between an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other as they hope to win the argument for the indecisive human. Too often I find myself in these situations – but it’s not a devil that sits atop my left shoulder, it’s a little black wolf.

For the rest of my life I’ll continuously struggle to make the right decisions. When you’ve lived without health complications, adjusting to a chronic illness can be a huge challenge. And while it has undeniably gotten easier over time, there are still plenty of situations where I’m forced to choose between what I want and what’s good for me.


Life with lupus is rarely ever black and white, and unfortunately it seems this will be an ongoing occurrence. It’s not about choosing the perfect option, as there rarely is one, but choosing the best that’s offered.

Lupus is without a doubt my metaphorical kryptonite. Being Australian, my love for long days in the ocean, basking in the harsh Aussie sun, followed by a salt-riddled meal of fish and chips and a few drinks with friends borders on a cultural cliché. While this is exactly what I love most about my culture, it’s also exactly what I’m warned to avoid most because of my illness.

The little angel on my right shoulder often gets her way. She’s got my best interests at heart and I know that regardless of how frustrated I get, she has such an irritating way of being right – and I can trust her.

However, I’m so easily swayed by that little black wolf. His voice is so loud and clear, egging me on to do all the things I know I shouldn’t: Stay in the sun longer, eat the salty chips, sleep in, skip your lecture – it won’t matter! The worst part is how easily I’m persuaded, and in too many instances it’s not necessarily that he’s cunning, but that I want to listen to him.

Listening to the wolf is easy. He’s carefree and fun. He doesn’t care about the consequences, but heeding his advice always comes at a cost: waking up even more tired than usual and feeling drained of energy from overexposure to the sun. It’s not the wolf that’s forced to help me pick up the pieces of myself, but my angel.

I knew she was right, she always is. And we both knew I’d eventually come around to pushing my pride aside and admitting my wrongdoing. But she doesn’t gloat over my bad decision-making, as ultimately it’s not a bad choice I was chasing, but a lost feeling of normalcy.

My hardest choices are the ones where I’m forced to choose between what I once thought was a given in my life, and what now lies in front of me. I fall into the wolf’s hands not because I seek decisions that can potentially harm my health, but as I’m pining for a reality that no longer belongs to me.

There will never be a time where I don’t have the wolf pointing out all the options I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve had without lupus, and what my life could’ve been if I was “normal” like everyone else.

But then I turn to my right, look at my angel and know there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not a better person because of what lupus has forced me to overcome. That the “normal” version of myself I mourn was not half the person I am today. Although she had so much more freedom in life, her normalcy is exactly what stopped her from being extraordinary in every way.

This post originally appeared in Kristiana Page’s column “The Girl Who Cried Wolf” on Lupus News Today.

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Thinkstock photo via Andrew_Rybalko.

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