The Positives from the Negatives – Chronic Illness Challenge, Day 25.

Name 5 activities you have managed to pursue while being ill and 5 that you would not have considered had you not been.

I’m taking activities to mean literally anything I am physically capable of doing so here goes.

  1. Crochet – I LOVE to crochet. I had never picked up a hook until about 5 years ago. It is so relaxing. It’s something I am capable of doing, that I can watch grow, turn into projects and presents. It takes concentration and focus when learning but once you know what you are doing it’s easy and repetitive, it calms my mind and my anxiety. I may be a little addicted to it in fact.
  2. Knitting – I tried knitting, I am NOT good at knitting. I can do the basics, but I suck at following patterns and I get confused and frustrated, plus, the work grows so much more slowly than in crochet. So yes, knitting is another activity I can technically do, although I choose not to!
  3. Writing – I used to write poetry when I was younger as a way of dealing with depression and anxiety, I suppose I still could but it seems to required just a little too much concentration. So I write things like this blog and my general thoughts and ramblings to get them out of my head. It’s something I can still do even though I’m sick, granted I write less than I would like to, it never happens all in one go and I can only record short sections at a time but I CAN do it!
  4. Audiobooks – I have always loved to read, loosing myself in a fantasy world, getting out of my real world I suppose. As I got more and more sick and my cognitive function became more and more impaired I had to find another way to loose myself in those worlds.
  5. Documentaries – I always enjoyed learning, about pretty much anything actually. I have two degrees and would do multiple online free courses. When this was no longer possible I took to watching documentaries on TV when I was well enough to stand to watch TV, or setting them up on youtube and simply listening to them. It allows me to keep learning but without the level of energy expense and commitment.

Okay, so now for the activities I would not have done had I not been sick. I don’t know for sure but let’s try it.

  1. Sewing – I have recently started sewing small amounts when I am well enough. I couldn’t tell you for sure whether or not I would have taken up this hobby without my chronic collection but what I can say is that it has been my symptoms that have encouraged me to. I have skin sensitivity and I find it very hard to find clothes to wear that are bearable or, heaven forbid, comfortable. This led me to the conclusion that if I could learn to make my own I could play around with them, adjust them and eventually make my own comfy clothing. My parents even got me a overlocker as a delayed 30th birthday present (I’m 32 now but haven’t been well enough to celebrate my 30th so this was a good use off the money) to make it easier, which it does now  have got the hang of threading it!
  2. Crochet – As I said before it is now one of my favourite things to do, but I doubt I would have even considered taking up the hobby if I wasn’t so sick. If my hobby didn’t have to be able to be performed in a sitting or semi-sitting position.
  3. Babywearing – Once again, not something I am 100% sure that I wouldn’t have done even without my illnesses but the reason I started babywearing with Wildchild was because I needed to be able to push myself and look after her. I love babywearing it was such an amazing experience and something that I am so happy I got to share with Wildchild. So much so that I went on to become a babywearing peer supporter and then, a couple of years later a babywearing consultant. Although I don’t practice as a babywearing consultant because the insurance is too expensive without be being able to commit a certain amount of hours it is brilliant to have both the knowledge and the qualification and it really helps with the next point on this list!
  4. Internet Admin – Once again I may have volunteered to put myself in these positions without having become chronically ill, but those groups I admin are babywearing groups. Babywearing groups that I believe I would not have been involved with had I not taking up babywearing because of my disabilities. So yes, I am part of a couple of admin teams that admin multiple large babywearing groups on facebook. Being a qualified babywearing consultant helps me to give advice that is safe and in depth. My disabilities give me an added bonus of being able to directly understand how difficult babywearing can be with physical limitations allowing me to give extra advice from personal experience.
  5. My Job – If I wasn’t chronically ill I would most definitely have a job, but not this job. A different job, a better paying job probably, one with more hours and more responsibility. But I would not have THIS job, which I LOVE. Which I am so amazingly thankful for, every single day. The charity was inspired by people like me who have been stuck in seemingly hopeless situations, without a clear and obvious way out. Without me having gotten sick and ended up in these situations IG may not be around, it may not be helping the people that we are helping.

So who says chronic illness is all bad right?

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Not better, just different – Chronic Illness Challenge, Day 18. 

Today’s entry will probably be rather short and I’m not totally convinced that it will make sense. I’ve got what I describe as a “medication hangover” side effects from strong meds I had to take overnight and not as strong meds I have had to take during the day today. 

Do you think you have become a better person for being ill? Explain. 

Better, I don’t think so, although I’ll never really be sure about that will I? Different? Definitely. The way I think about myself, others and the world has totally changed since I became sick. 

I’ve always been quite a compassionate person, always wanting to help people, worried about upsetting or annoying people. I’m quite empathic by nature and often take on other people’s problems as my own. Both of these qualities have always been there, hence going into professions and jobs where I can directly help people. They have become more pronounced since I became sick, my ability to utilise them has also changed. 

I feel more for people who are struggling because I struggle, I understand what it’s like to be disabled because I am disabled, I know what it is like to struggle with anxiety and depression because of my mental health problems. My ability to empathise and sympathise has grown experientially over the past decade. Unfortunately my ability to actively help has declined at the same rate over the same time. Although I still do my best to help in every way I can. 

I am definitely a different person, I have an in depth understanding of things I never thought I would have experience of, things that I never wanted to have experience with. But nonetheless it has changed my view on life. I appreciate the small, tiny things in every day. Things that I never did before, things that I don’t think I even saw before. I look for the positives in every situation, I focus on the good bits and try to be optimistic. Previously I was a complete pessimist, although not an optimist I now really try to look for the good in all situations. 

So better person, probably not. More compassionate and understanding maybe. Less pessimistic definitely, an optimist absolutely not! More appreciative yes, more able no. Not better. Just different. So different. But I am happy with my lot.