I hope you are all doing well and managing to navigate this ever unpredictable lockdown.
I’ve missed talking to you this week.
I’ve been out of action - again - due to another endometriosis flare. It’s a frustrating time because while I now know my chronic illness better, I still can’t predict these flare ups; when they will arrive, what they will bring, when they will subside.
I’m writing this as I start to feel a bit better; I’m sitting upright, I’ve managed to work through some of my to-do list, I’ve cooked a meal and sat outside in the sunshine.
All the same, my mind has been a mess this past week. A lot of this is due to the current lockdown and politics of the UK. I am not sure how anyone cannot despair.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen my fury at the events unfolding in the UK; the lies and gaslighting around the breaking of lockdown and quarantine rules and law by the PM’s chief advisor, to the grinning idiocy of the Health Secretary as more people die.
This is exacerbating those underlying negative thoughts that go with feeling ‘unproductive’ when I’m in a flare.
Ah yes, internalised ableism rearing it’s head.
Rationally, of course, I know that living and working and mothering with a chronic illness makes me anything but lazy. I know I need to take time out.
Yet, I’m that commentary that I’m lazy runs on a loop. That I’m not making a difference. That I should be doing - well, something. Even when I’m too whacked to even make the dinner.
Chronic illness or no, I’ve a feeling many of us will recognise this voice.
Keeping going is not going all out all of the time
So, when the shit hits the fan, but we still have work to do, and lives to live, and possibly kids to look after, what can we do?
Plough on and hope for the break; a break that never seems to come?
Not anymore. I burnout hard from that. It took me months; no, a year to begin to recover from that.
Now, on the days when I can’t, then the bare minimum is all that matters. Keeping well, or re-couperating, is what I know will get me on track.
If you are feeling like this, eliminate all the non-essential things ‘to-do’. You can do them another time - and probably sooner than you think if you pause some of them when you need to. I filled several pages of my notebook with scrawls of snippets and ideas while I was knocked back. I can come back to those later.
I am now much better at telling people when I need more time. I also apologise when I have to reschedule - I’ve never got on with the advice to ‘never apologise’ - an apology is not a bad thing. It lets people know that I understand how me changing my schedule with them, impacts theirs.
If you are struggling, try a couple of small things that will buy you a bit of time out. Even if it is not replying to emails at 10pm. If writing them helps, then write them and schedule them for the next morning. That way you are not keeping yourself awake waiting for a reply, or getting into a chain when inevitably someone else is also emailing at 10pm.
You are not lazy, so quell that guilt!
Just try and keep the guilt in check - I still struggle with this again and again.
It helps me to come back to this question when I get into that spiral; what do you have to REALLY feel guilty for. Often, nothing.
Most of us are juggling and struggling. Especially now.
So, I leave you with this, on Friday. Please, stop telling yourself you are lazy. Please stop the loop of guilt. Please pause, reset and keep moving.
Equally, if working over the weekend helps you to spread the load at the moment, don’t feel bad about that either; just make sure you are taking some time over the week to rest, reset, recuperate.
And listen to a bit of Kate Bush.