To me, health is a gauge of the ability of my body to “carry on” without any detrimental effects. This means that although I may get sick from a virus or bacteria, get injured, or even lose a limb, my body can fix things to a certain extent and my life will continue on. The inability of my body to fix these types of things in a timely manner (as in, it’s not fixing problems quickly enough and I am going to die…) would be the lack of health or poor health to me. I have always thought of illness as referring to something more long-term than short-term. This can be a disease that is “given” to you by a virus, bacteria, genetics, etc., or one you have “given” yourself psychologically. I think of illness as being more ambiguous than the term “health”.
My criteria for these definitions probably came from many different sources. My parents raised me to think that certain practices were healthy such as staying in shape and drinking milk while many of my friends think that you are healthy until you get a bad disease or start to die. Like everyone else, I also see things on TV, in movies, and in other media that try to sell you on what health and illnesses are. Practices seem to get passed around and become nothing more than personal narratives where people simply state what worked for them. That may be an oversimplification, but I think most of us, myself included, forget the motivations behind what many people say.
Based on my definitions of health and illness, infertility would not be an illness. My definitions were completely aimed at measuring the ability of one’s body to carry on their own life, not the lives of others as with reproduction. I absolutely had not considered reproduction as an essential part of human life when I was thinking about what health and illness meant to me and looking back I would actually like to classify this as an illness. Similarly, poverty would not strictly be considered an illness according to my definitions. I had not considered economic and environmental factors when writing my definitions because I was only considering things that my body can or cannot do. I do, however, think that poverty is more of a social illness instead of a personal illness, which is what I was clearly thinking when I defined the words. Obviously health and illness have broad implications and everyone has their own perceptions of what it means to be healthy.