Time. It’s a funny thing really. As teachers, we spend the entire time wishing our lives away to reach the next holiday and then they pass us by like whippets. As humans we spend our lives on a countdown to the next weekend, the next holiday, the next pay-day. But there are also stages in our lives that we would like to press pause on and enjoy the moment for just a little longer, be with that certain someone for just a few hours more, laugh a little harder and say the things we really want to say.
“Time is a healer” is something we often offer as a condolence for people in all kinds of situations but I have come to believe that time isn’t the healer. Time doesn’t heal us: we heal ourselves by learning to live with certain aspects of life that have dealt us a cruel hand. Some pain doesn’t disappear: we simply learn to manage it.
For me, I can’t quite get my head around the fact that I have been ill now for almost six months and bald for nearly five. One of my personal struggles is learning to accept this situation that I find myself in. I haven’t “got used to the situations,” I haven’t “learnt to enjoy the perks of being bald,” I haven’t found that, “with time things will get easier.” There is no time frame with this hidden illness.
Yes, I have some really amazing days, recently a few in a row, but then out of the blue, BAM, my body says, “urmm, sorry Hannah but no, you are not ready to do all of those things. You need to slow down, listen to your mother more and not over do things on your good days.” This my friends, sucks. One thing I have learnt is not to resent these pay back days. I would much rather put to use my good days and spend time with the people who are tirelessly trying to make me feel good about myself – and succeeding may I add. The hard part is just learning that at the moment, my life isn’t normal, my body isn’t normal and although at some point I hope to be back to my usual self, I can’t put a time frame on that.
People find it strange when I tell them that the past six months have flown by. Normally when you’re ill, time slows down but for me it hasn’t. Possibly because I’ve spent an awful lot of it sleeping (!) but also learning about this new world I’ve uncovered about ME/CFS and alopecia. I am fully versed on coping strategies and telling people “I’m fine” and can now accept that my morning and evening routines are a combination of slow, exhausting, painful, granny like movements to either get me out of or into bed! I’m getting better at learning that sometimes things have to be about me and how I feel and not worrying so much about how others feel; being the flaky friend is okay when you have friends and family like mine who understand.
Through my reiki sessions and using Bach remedies, I’ve become more in tune with how my feelings and emotions change over hours let alone days and weeks. The overriding and recurring feelings are frustration and sadness.
Frustration: I can’t live the life I want to. I can’t do the things I love doing. I can’t set goals and targets that are the true ones I want to, such as going back to work in Dubai, going dancing with my friends, going to the cinema (noise sensitivity is truly one of the worst things at the moment!) It’s also frustrating to try to explain how I feel on a daily basis because it changes so much and I know that I may appear okay but a lot of the time, I feel far from it.
Sadness: I have an overriding sense of sadness a lot of the time. At first I identified it as jealousy but having talked it through with a few people, realised it’s not. It sounds ridiculous but I grieve for my hair very single day. I have phantom hair moments when I go to rinse it out in the shower or go to itch a phantom twitch of an eyelash and realise they aren’t there. I miss my hair SO much. Just writing about it makes me well up. I can face the mirror now but it makes me sad because I don’t see a happy person there anymore, I just see sadness. Hair aside, I feel sadness for the time I am missing out on. Time to explore and fulfil things before I turn 30 that I had all mapped out in my head. Sadness that I can’t join in on day trips, cinema trips, shopping trips.
Now, I know the above all sounds very defeatist and miserable but you know what, I’m allowed to feel like this just as long as it doesn’t become the emotion I feel 90% of the time. Luckily, I am surrounded by people who tell me I’m allowed to feel like this because in all honesty, who can stay positive every day for six months?! I still make the effort to find the sunshine in every single day. I’m adapting to my new life and learning to do things in a new way i.e preparing meals or baking cakes by doing the majority of it sitting down and using my left hand!
I’m learning a lot from this experience and if there is one thing I’d say to people, it’s don’t wish time away. I’ve had time to think and see what and who is truly important to me but also I’ve seen who I am important to also. Lives are busy but you know what, if something or someone is important to you, you make the time. You only get this one life, so, even when things are really, REALLY bad, find the sunshine because you’re guaranteed to find some somewhere, even if it’s lurking under a big, dark boulder. I’m learning to take each day as it comes and it really does make you appreciate things more rather than always being on a countdown to the next big thing…there are big things in every day, even if it’s having enough energy to shave your legs!
Happy Sunday all…go find today’s sunshine!