It wasn’t exactly planned but I did know I hadn’t made any plans for my week and a half off work. Well, nothing other than Christmas day and even that was tentative. That’s the thing with my ME, making definite plans can make me anxious so I tend not to make them. What if I can’t make it, what if I have to leave early, will this make me worse and if so, how long for, is it going to be worth the risk and the payback? I do try to still make plans but honestly, unless it’s at my house and with people I know will help me manage and with enough time to rest beforehand and/or recover after I sometimes think no, it isn’t worth it. I just don’t want to be ill again.
So without consciously meaning to, I have made myself take a little winter break at home. I finished work on Friday 21st December, visited a friend to hand in presents on Boxing day and had Christmas lunch with family. It’s now the 31st of December and other than the assistant at Asda who brought out my food order and my neighbour who handed in soup today, I haven’t seen anyone else. I’ve just been at home.
(okay that’s a bit of a lie, I had to pop into the office for a bit, so saw some colleagues on on Friday but I’m kind of pretending to myself I didn’t go in as I don’t want to think about work whilst I’m on holiday)
A couple of years ago this would have driven me nuts. I would never have thought I could spend that much time alone….especially willingly. I only started living alone in the last few years and whilst I have enjoyed it there’s a difference when it comes to spending this much time alone.
To be clear, before I go much further, both friends and family have invited me to theirs or would come to mine but I’ve been quite happy in my hibernation. It’s rare I get this much time to rest in one go and I felt my body needed this after the year it’s had trying so hard to keep going despite the challenges ME brings. Also, I’m lucky, this has been a choice for me and I’m able to do a lot while I’m at home. Others with much more severe ME spend weeks, months, years and even decades at home or even just in bed. This was a choice for me, one I’m glad I’m able to make and even more grateful to know I can end whenever I choose to.
I’m not the most patient person and I’m amazed when people, even those who have known me for some time think I am. I’m really, really not. I’m impatient, easily bored, fidgety, grumpy and pernickity. Not a great combination for spending a week in a small house alone. Mind you, probably better than spending it with someone else! Anyway, today was probably the first time I’ve felt a bit bored and even that didn’t last too long. Day 6…..puts on her best geordie accent, day 6 in the big barnet household, if you like. And btw big barnet is probably quite accurate given the amount of Christmassy treats I’ve locked myself in with!
So other than stuffing my face with celebrations, shortbread and chocolate Santas (all washed down with generous measures of Baileys of course), what have I been up to? How have I managed to stay sane and even enjoy my mini break at home?
From previous experience I know that once Christmas is over I generally want a break from crafting as typically I’m working on a lot of projects right up until Christmas Eve and this year was no different. This makes for a great time to catch up on a lot of reading. I’d reserved a number of books at my local library and my mum helped me to collect them all. There was something so lovely having this great big pile of books from my “want to read” list, sitting on my shelf ready for me to curl up with. So far I’ve read two and a half of them and they have been wonderful (God, a human history of religion, Diary of a Bookseller and The Cows). Once I’ve finished this blog I fully intend to curl up with my current read and go into hibernation again for the night.
Okay, I might have been slightly ambitious with this one. Being alone with a Christmas themed, 1000 piece Where’s Wally jigsaw could in fact drive you crazy. Every piece is red and white, well apart from the elves……..and there are SO MANY ELVES!! As soon as I opened the box I immediately regretted not giving this to someone as a present. What as I thinking! Anyway, I’m still persisting with it and although progress has slowed down now the easier bit have been done, I will carry on. Should have it done in time for Easter…hopefully!
I know I said I’d need a break from this but a couple of projects doesn’t really count, does it? I’m making a baby blanket/sack thingy (not sure what it’s called) for a friend as her little one has grown out of their current one. It’s a pattern that I can do in front of the TV and so it’s a nice thing to work on while I enjoy some telly. I also found a cross stitch kit and decided to give that a go. Not something I’ve done since I was a kid and all it’s managed to do is make me realise how old I am. I could hardly make out anything and had to attach my magnifying clip lamp (yes I have one of those) in order to see anything! I got one side of a snowflake done and now it’s just sitting on the footstool mocking me. Between that and the unfinished jigsaw I’m particularly glad I have other projects I can turn to….see grumpy and impatient, told you!
Last year I set up the Happy Barnet Craft Challenge and with January just about to arrive, this week was time to launch my new challenges for 2019. So I’ve been busy making up graphics, updating the Facebook group, setting up twitter and Instagram and generally just chatting crafts with my crafty friends. I’ve had some really lovely messages from those involved in the challenge this year and those who are excited to join in. Whilst it’s definitely been a positive thing for me, it has a times been something that’s caused me some anxiety this year. Was I doing enough, did people like what I was doing, why have some members gone so quiet, what am I doing?? So these messages truly meant a lot to me and have given me the confidence to do more next year. Have a few ideas in my head already and whilst I’m still nervous about committing to specific dates to do things, I know I have back up and support in the group which makes it feel possible this year, or at least, worth a try.
Now, you might think YAWN, so what, we all watch TV. Well, hold on a second. There’s two things I particularly enjoyed about watching TV that I want to share.
1. For some time now, my friend Eliza has been wanting to me to watch horror and sci-fi. I watch neither and she feels I need to work on this. Eliza lives in London so watching films together doesn’t happen often. When we do see each other however there is always a sofa-based movie marathon scheduled in (mostly during a hangover but not always). As I can no longer travel to London we recently decided to watch Netflix films together and continue my education into the horror genre. This included watching Tucker & Dale v Evil last weekend. We start at the same time and chat via whatsapp. As Eliza has seen most of the films we watch, her messages often include things like “watch out” or “remember that knife”, whereas mine are more like “shiiiittttt” or “flipping nora, where did he come from”, with the occassional “ewwwww” from both of us. It’s become one of my favourite pastimes.
Which brings me to number 2. I watched a scary film all by myself!! Okay, I watched it in daytime and paused it a lot….even stopping a few times when it got too tense and going back to it later but the point is I watched it all by myself. Yes I did. Go me.
Reflecting and planning
Couldn’t think of a section heading that didn’t sound pretentious or just nonsense but honestly it’s something I’ve had the time and head space to do. You might have seen those posts about how it’s important for kids to get bored as that’s where the brain gets to do some real magic, well I think that’s what’s happened here. I’ve had time to think back about this year, about my health, my life, where I am and what I want. I haven’t necessarily made any big decisions but I feel it’s been a really healthy thing for me to do and again it’s something I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to do. I’m sure you can appreciate that I’m not sharing the ins and outs of these thoughts and plans as they are private and/or not yet fully formed and ready to be shared but do know it’s been a positive experience overall. That is to say there’s been a few emotional moments and other moments of worry, anxiety, depression, self-criticism but nothing I haven’t been able to work through. Something I haven’t so easily done in the past.
So here I am, 8pm on the 31st of December and another couple of days left of my hibernation. Will I finish that flipping jigsaw, will I now watch the end of The Autopsy, a horror I started watching ages ago and chickened out of, will I eat the rest of those celebrations and will I see any other humans before returning to work?* Whatever happens I know I have a lot of ways to keep myself entertained, challenged, relaxed and happy. And thanks to my planning I have lots of lovely things to look forward to already in 2019 :)
Hope you have a good and happy hogmanay too, wherever and however you are spending it.
*probably not, no way, obvs, maybe