A while ago, I think one of my first ME posts, was an OK is relative post and I said about doing this one then, so far I haven’t actually posted it yet, at least I don’t think I have so that is today’s post. If I have already done this then hopefully this will be slightly different, I couldn’t find it on the blog but it might be a bit of brain fog, either thinking I’ve done it and I haven’t or just missing it when I searched.
I think most people will go through phases in their lives when what they think of as normal will change, either suddenly or over time, and it sometimes takes a while to really notice how much the new normal is different to you before whatever it is happened. For me the thing that has changed my normal the most is definitely ME, I think it will probably have a similar impact on anyone who has a chronic illness. I didn’t even really notice how much my ‘normal’ was different to what it had been a few years previously until I had to fill in a form, I think it was the census, that asked about disabilities and how much affected what you were able to do as an everyday thing.
Before I was ill I wasn’t the most social person ever but I was pretty active and what I thought of as normal was doing after school clubs, going for walks, being able to play on the computer or go out any time I wanted to without any kind of planning. I don’t really remember when I was first ill, it seemed to be a blur of pretty much coming downstairs and spending the day on the sofa with the curtains drawn because it was too bright and sleeping half of the day away.
It was only after a couple of years, when I was actually able to do more and was therefore actually feeling kind of positive about what I was able to do, that I had this form and it made me realise how different my normal was to that of others my age, I think about 18 or 19 at the time. My normal had become trying to study a little bit each day but still spending most of my time on the sofa or in bed, resting. It was normal for me to not be able to do anything much in the way of leaving the house, maybe shopping once a week including something like grocery shopping, and regular doctor visits and tests were just part of my life. I think to start with I was going in for blood tests every month and getting multiple ones done each time.
This realising that my new normal was different was pretty depressing, I wasn’t actually depressed but it’s something that made me realise everything that I couldn’t do. It didn’t help that so much of teenage life seems to be about comparing everything to everyone, whether you mean to or not, and being ill at 15 made the difference even bigger. I don’t think I was ever the most popular, I was good at sports but also got good grades so I didn’t really fit into either and it was never something that really bothered me, I’m happy enough by myself, but there’s a difference between making the choice of being alone or not doing something and actually not being able to do something.
I think it took me another couple of years to accept this new normal and it still keeps on changing over time as I find new coping mechanisms and new symptoms suddenly pop up. A chronic illness is something that changes your normal and keeps on changing it, whether it’s because of an improvement in health or a change in something, normal will evolve with it. For a lot of people the events that change their lives have immediate effects or the effects are something that stay the same after the original change, like moving away from home or some other life changing event. There will be other things that change because of this one change but they’re often obvious changes that affect certain parts of their lives rather than everything.
I’m not sure if this post has stayed as on topic as I meant it to, I guess the original point was that everyone has things that change their normal and normal is different for everyone. Just because we have a chronic illness doesn’t change the fact that our lives are normal for us, even if they don’t conform to what the average person (if there is such a thing) in our age, social, geographic or any other kind of group you could be put into, would be able to do or consider normal.
I think the next couple of weeks I’ll be sticking with this three posts a week but I’m going to try and get it back to five sometime soon as I do miss doing the different posts, I’m just having to pace a bit more with the graduation and actually finally starting the Etsy store next week plus some fun side effects from a new medication draining even more energy. Crossing my fingers it all gets sorted soon and I can get back to the schedule I started at the beginning of the year.
I hope you’re all as well as possible and have a good weekend.