Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Being kind to myself

I have been feeling sad since I got home from hospital at the end of last week.

Instead of feeling grateful for the delicious soups, smoothies and ice lollies I can eat, I have grieved for the things that I can't eat. I stood in front of the sandwich counter at my local shop yesterday and sobbed about not being able to eat the cheese and pickle that I craved.

Instead of feeling grateful for my big, comfortable bed and fluffy pillows (and the wonderful husband and cat that share the bed with me) I resent my 'snuggly prison' and dwell on the places I would rather be. I think of the exhibitions I'm not visiting, the full-time job I'm not doing, the friends I'm not seeing.

My hair is falling out in clumps and the little that I have left is dry and frizzy. My nails are cracked and brittle, flaking and ridged. None of my clothes fit because I have lost so much weight in the last couple of months. Even the beautiful lingerie that I wear to feel secretly sexy under my comfortable, disability-friendly clothes no longer fits properly. I feel sad to be losing the curves that have defined my body shape for so many years. 

Deep down, I know that this isn't a helpful attitude, but how to change things for the better?

First of all, I have decided to take some time to look after myself. I don't know why I am so much harder on myself than I would be if it were one of my friends in this situation, but I am. That has to change - charity begins at home, right?

Where do I start?

1. Take a long, hot bath
2. Paint my nails
3. Smother myself in my favourite body lotion
4. Put on my prettiest pyjamas
5. Play some feelgood music

That done, I'm ready to adjust my attitude.

I feel sad because I can't eat the things that I want to eat. I can't change that, but I can decide to appreciate the liquid diet that I have. So many people with the same condition as me are not able to eat at all.

I feel sad because I am stuck at home and isolated. So, I need to invite some friends round! A friend who lives nearby dropped in today just on the offchance that I was home and free. It made my day. It wasn't an issue that I couldn't eat, or that I couldn't do much more than sit. We chatted and laughed, talked about books and politics and husbands, listened to music and planted seeds. My friend went home after a couple of hours, leaving me feeling more uplifted than I have felt in weeks.

It's very easy to become isolated when even getting dressed is a chore, but I'm beginning to realise that my soul craves company.

So, my first new resolution is to make sure than I see someone other than my husband at least once a week. I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't look perfect with freshly-washed hair and a well put-together outfit, or if we don't do anything more than watch a film together or even just sit in the garden with the cat and the newspapers.

My second resolution is to wear lipstick At All Times. I love lipstick. It makes me feel confident. I talk a lot about my Brave Face. This is the face that I present to the world, that can deal with the medical world and all its pessimism. Of course it slips occasionally, and I'm not saying that it's not ok to cry sometimes, but lipstick helps the Brave Face to stay in place when I need it.

Thirdly, and finally, I am going to ask for help when I need it. I love having the opportunity to help others, so why do I find it so hard to admit that I can't get through this alone? 

1. Spend time with friends
2. Wear lipstick
3. Ask for help


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