Happy New Year all! (if on 11th January, it’s not too late to say that).
I’ve never found new year particularly easy; whenever there is as much expectation as there is with the turn of the year, there is inevitably disappointment. That, and I spent two formative New Year’s Eves in Oceana Nottingham, evenings that which, 8 years later, I’m yet to recover from.
This year, however, was particularly loaded. At the end of 2017 I was absorbed by the ‘new year, new you’ mantra, perpetuated by tons of arguably unhealthy and relatively sickly discourse on social media. I wanted to move house, get a new job, write more, gym more (or at all to be honest), go to Vietnam, write a blog; the list goes on. Even if I spent the year brimming with health and bursting with energy, reasonable goals these were not. Although I credit myself for writing a bit more, starting (not continuing) a blog and moving house (more out of luck than any proactivity on my part), I did not meet most of my targets.
2018 in fact passed in a struggle-filled blur and what I thought to be a flare up in my condition ended up in a steady worsening. The balance of pain to pain-free days flipped completely and everyday activities were not without difficulty. Dislocations or sublaxations were anything from a painful inconvenience to independence robbers. Fatigue frequently sapped me of all energy and concentration, and left me struggling to manage my job or to get out and see my friends. I probably had more flu than sleep. Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of good times too; I went to gigs, I visited friends, I enjoyed playing some deplorable guitar, but 2018 was the year that everything I did would cost me something. A night out? Sure!! Wake up feeling like you’ve been through a mangle and be reliant on painkillers to move for the next week. A gig? Certainly. Enjoy 5 days of subsequent fatigue, and use a stick for a few days. Oh and you’ll need to sit down in the shower tomorrow morning, soz. I realise how lucky I am to be able to do the things that I do when I do them, this was all just very new, and I had to make lots of adjustments.
So, this year, when 3 glasses of wine into the evening (and nowhere near Oceana, #blessed), the conversation turned to resolutions and I didn’t know what to say. If this year is going to be anything like last (and there is a good chance it will), just getting through it will have to be enough. If I manage to keep up my job, see my friends and deal with the pain well enough to carry on doing things that I enjoy, I want that to be enough. Despite my goals being completely unrealistic last year, I felt like I’d failed when I didn’t reach them; I had no intention of feeling like that this year. New year and its resolutions were toxic. End of story.
Well, not quite. After a few days of moping about my rubbish-limb induced waste of a year, my relentlessly positive flatmate forced me to reconsider. She helped me see that it was still good to look forward to things, but I just had to make the goals a little/ lot more achievable. I just have to integrate my unreliable musculoskeletal system into what I want from this year. Because being semi-miserable is no fun, I thought I’d give it a whirl and I set myself a few resolutions.
My resolutions for this year are:
• To join the Doctors, and engage with healthcare again. As is the case with most people suffering from a chronic condition, I’ve had some bad experiences and some exceptionally unsympathetic doctors, so I’m a bit scared of going. That is a fear I fully intend to overcome and I want to get back into the system. It might help.
• To give myself the best opportunity to be as healthy as possible at my best friend’s wedding. My best friend is getting married in March, I’m a bridesmaid and I’d love to not need any sort of walking aid for the day. I realise that’s not 100% within my control, but if I do the right things until then, I’ll give myself a much better chance. Either way, I’m honoured and thrilled to be part of her day.
• To keep up with writing a little bit more. It’s fun, and I’m slightly less bad than I was this time last year.
• To stop falling asleep on the internet. I don’t sleep well, either due to pain or an over-active mind that enjoys reminding me at 3am that I said something cripplingly embarrassing in 1998. An unhelpful coping mechanism is falling asleep to mindless rubbish online. Waking up, laptop balanced on my chest with two tabs open; a YouTube video about Cardi B’s makeup artist and a google search of ‘Susan Boyle 2018’ was a (literal) wake-up call. No more! There has to be a better / more socially acceptable way. And I intend to find it.
I’ve started working on them too; I’ve joined my local GP surgery and have an appointment this afternoon. Wish me luck!
New year and the near-ferocious resolution making that accompanies it can be really difficult for those of us dealing with challenges that our circles don’t face. It can encourage us to compare ourselves and our achievements to those of others, and it can make us feel like we’re coming up short. Know that we aren’t. We’re doing the best that we can, and if our best is just getting through it, that is enough.
This year, I hope to be a bit kinder to myself, and more mindful of others. People don’t wear what they’re dealing with like clothes, and it’s easy to inadvertently disregard someone, either by assuming or not taking the time to try and understand. If we all aimed to listen a bit more, to understand a bit more and to validate people for who they are and not what they’ve achieved, the world would be a bit nicer place. In the era of wall building, let’s tear a couple down.