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Embracing your journey
As winter approaches, it's a good time to reflect
I hope you’re all safe and well and having a lovely autumn.
One of the key things you’re told when living with chronic illness is to have a positive attitude, and another is to never give up.
However, one of my doctors said to me recently, “what if that’s just not part of your journey and the best thing to do is to pause and consider alternative ways forward?” This was in relation to a course of treatment which has been the plan for a while, but so far no luck with it. Most of my doctors have been part of the positive mental attitude brigade and cheering me on along the never giving up route, but her words interestingly struck a chord, because, at the end of the day, I’m really tired of trying something that just isn’t working.
One of the key things you’re told when living with chronic illness is that this is going to be your situation long-term. Certain things can be managed, but some things are just not going to get better.
It’s been a difficult year in many ways. My chronic fatigue has become massively noticeable and the energy that I had pre-2020 seems to have evaporated to almost nothing, and at the moment, no one can get to the bottom of why. The last time I dislocated my shoulder I lost feeling in my writing hand for a couple of weeks, which made me quite unhappy and was another thing that just didn’t work as it should.
It can be exhausting when a symptom becomes particularly bad, or a new one starts affecting your daily life, both for me and the people around me. So keeping a positive mental attitude and never giving up on the things that mean something to you is key for having a happy life.
But, acceptance of your situation and embracing your journey is equally important as fighting against something you can’t ever change can only ever make you unhappy. Sometimes pausing and considering alternatives, even if those alternatives aren’t something you ever wanted before, is the best thing to do.
If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that no one can ever plan for a fixed and definite future. As we move into the winter season, take the opportunity that the colder evenings spent at home give you to reflect on your journey and which parts of it you need to embrace more in order to be the happiest and best version of you that you can be.
Last week I did my first ever session of Yin yoga, a practice which involves holding poses for a longer period that the Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga I usually do. Of course, as I am hypermobile, I did have to adapt some of the poses and, if you are hypermobile, or have any other physical condition which affects your mobility, you should always adapt poses with a qualified Yoga instructor before beginning any practice, but I find Yoga very beneficial for me both physically and mentally and found that Yin Yoga was particularly relaxing.
Things I’ve seen, heard, read and talked about
Senses in Stories This describes how Anosmia or Hyposmia, or smell blindness, affects the author’s creative writing. I’ve lost some of my hearing (after dislocating a tiny ear bone), but the loss is very minimal, so haven’t really thought about it affecting my writing before, though I guess it might and I just have never realised!
Engineering 'must change' to include everyone This talks about how rethinking how engineering is taught could open up the field to more neurodiverse people. Engineering and other ideas based careers need as many different people as possible to ensure that creativity and solutions stay fresh and innovative, and there’s no reason why anyone work in any type of job, provided that they can do things differently.
Who Cares – Unity Theatre I reviewed this emotional drama for North West End UK, exploring the busy and, often overwhelming lives, of young carers. Based on real life testimonies, writer and director Matt Woodhead presents three specific stories, highlighting the both the prevalence of young carers and the tragic lack of support, both emotional and financial, they are faced with on a daily basis.
From the Body On a side note, I’m delighted to be appearing in this anthology exploring our bodies and the relationship we have with the food we give them. Creative non-fiction/non-fiction writings, curated and edited by Dr Charley Barnes.