I choose to....Invisible illness week is the illness awareness week that I usually go for. I struggle with my diagnosis almost daily. I don't really like M.E. as a diagnosis, it feels like a diagnosis of ignorance rather than an abbreviation of what is actually wrong with me. Plus I kind of feel like all chronic illnesses are sort of tied together into this huge illness community & I really don't like the 'x illness is worse than your illness' thing that some charities do.
Anyway the theme for this year's invisible illness week is "I choose to". As I understand it the concept behind it is that none of us choose our illness but we choose how we cope with it & we choose to have hope. Or at least survive bravely.
I actually really like this theme I have had to make a lot of choices. Some that have been really hard & I wish I had never had to make. Some - like youtube & this blog - have been amazing.
So here are the things I have chosen & the stories behind them.
I choose to fight sinking back into depression
The year before I got sick with this mess I had depression. Depression is the most terrifying thing. It felt like I was trapped inside my head by the voice at the back of your head that tells you that you are fat & makes you believe that people are talking about you behind your back when they aren't really. There are large parts of that year that I still can't remember & the bits that I do remember still scare me. I have a fuzzy memory of a history lesson in which I sat on the floor colouring in the space in the letters in my planner - & I love history. This is getting really hard to talk about. Anyway, the point is when I got M.E. I was just starting to recover from my depression & so it was really hard to keep recovering as my life & everything I have ever dreamt about slipped out of my fingers. I still have to fight everyday not to go back to being depressed & the thought of that scares me more than anything else. But yeah, I choose to fight every day so that depression doesn't creep up on me whilst I'm not looking. Like it did last time.
I choose to put my health first
This one was/is really hard. When I got sick I was in Sixth Form. I am crazy academic, I get super excited about learning new stuff in pretty much any subject. I was 8 when I first decided that what I wanted to do when I grew up was go to university (Oxford specifically) & considering I live in an area where taxi driver & drug dealer tie for the most common profession you can see that I was a little weird...
Anyway, when I got sick I was applying to Universities, & by the time I realised that I had to drop out of school (I had a weird kidney thing that meant I was bleeding, in & out of hospital & having to go home from school after 1 lesson cause I was so tired I was collapsing) I had already gotten my interview at Oxford & school wouldn't let me drop out. The best & worst 3 days ever. I was still depressed & struggling. I talked to no-one (mostly cause they were freaks who wore suits to ointerviews & didn't realise that people live anywhere North of where the tube stops) but the interviews were amazing.
Anyway, very long story shorter I got an offer from Oxford but had to drop out of school. When I went back after the summer holidays I was in a wheelchair & I got another offer from Oxford pretty much straight away - I got an offer from everywhere I applied honestly. I was having to go to one lesson, go home for 3 hours to rest & then go back for another lesson. I once managed 3 lessons in a day & I thought they were going to throw a parade. There was one of my teachers that I saw maybe once in the whole of that year. When it came to exams - January time - I was only doing two exams then & in the second I got really really tired & weird. Despite knowing almost as much as my teacher I ended up with an E & a week on the sofa in my living room hallucinating & blacking out.
So I put my health first. I gave up on everything that was who I was, quit school, contacted universities & gave up on my A-Levels.
I choose to let myself live in the now
This one sounds weird but I swear I'll explain it. When I gave up school & everything that I had ever done I realised I could do two things. I could either spend all my waking hours either living in the past/future or I could live in the now. By that I mean that I could spend all my time wishing things had turned out differently & saying things like, "When I get better I will..." or I could accept that life is the way it is, shit happens to everyone & saying things like, "If I am really careful this week, next week I will....". So that's what I do.
I choose to find the best side of everything
This is more like I choose not to be bitter about what could have been & enjoy what I have now. I read 'Pollyanna' a while ago, I think when I had depression. It was a while ago anyway but I really liked Pollyanna. People always think Pollyanna is nauseatingly good but in reality she is genius. She believes in trying to find the best side of everything & so do I. You can begrudge the fact that life didn't work out the way you hoped but shit happens to everyone & life just is life. I can look at the fact that I didn't achieve any of the things I wanted to achieve, never had a relationship & am basically housebound as either a HUGE bummer, or I can realise that yes that version of me didn't achieve her goals but this version of me is kick-ass at the secret world, has a blog & a youtube channel she is really proud of & went to IMATs this year on like 3 days notice. This version of me is having a pretty good run at her goals if I'm honest.
I choose to be presentable everyday
This is not a judgement, I totally understand that everybody is different & have different priorities. One of my priorities, & something I am very proud of, is the fact that every morning I get out of bed, get clean & get dressed in clothes I'm okay to be seen in public wearing. I don't leave the house everyday but when I think I might, I also put on makeup & sort my hair. This is just me trying to hold onto parts of myself that I'm proud of; I may not be strong or tall in my wheelchair & no-one can see how great an ass I have but I still look smart/fabulous everyday.
I choose to get out of bed everyday
This again is not a judgement, again I understand that everybody is different. This is just something I am increadibly proud. However ill or tired or crappy I am I ALWAYS get out of bed, mostly so I can keep up my record.
I choose to challenge you
I challenge you to do this too, whether as a tweet, blog post, comment or just in your head. You don't have to be chronically ill, everyone has shit they have to cope with & everyone chooses to do something. What do you choose to do?