Something happened in the last week of October. I’d missed a day of work to an illness that I was sure I could have avoided if only I’d been smarter/done more/been better organised. I was determined not to miss another one, even when I hit the most difficult time of the month. Open school. Halloween classes. The annual community Halloween party. I wound up in the nurse’s room twice, determined to somehow tough it out. And I did, even if that was all I did. Forget reading, writing, keeping up with facebook or goodreads. My world narrowed down to my apartment and my school. When I thought about all the things I wasn’t doing, it just weighed me down even more. After all, I knew this was coming. Shouldn’t my preparations have made a difference?
It took an article written by a woman I’d never heard of to make me realise just how far from reality my expectations were. Hilary Mantel’s story of her ongoing struggle really put things in perspective. I’ve been really lucky for the last seven years. Not smart — lucky. The treatment I received worked for me in a way that it does not for many fellow sufferers, so I’ve been able to experience an almost symptom-free working life. Insulated from the reality of living with endo, I quickly forgot about the days when I was unable to get out of bed, which meant that when those days happened now, I took it as a personal failure. I’d been failing since the first reappearance of my symptoms in August.
Mantel’s chronicle of her own struggle is grim, but it reminded me that endometriosis is a factor outside of my control. A few missed classes are nothing in the context of a lifetime battle. I stopped blaming myself for my inability to control my symptoms. I slept when I needed to sleep, I said no to social obligations and allowed myself time to take care of myself. And something funny happened.
I’m writing again. After I don’t know how long, I am writing and enjoying writing. I signed up for NaNoWriMo, telling myself that it didn’t matter if I failed, it was just for fun — and I hit the halfway mark last week. I finished the rewrite of Thorns and Fangs two days ago. I am about to hit the difficult part of this month, but without the ridiculous pressure of my own expectations I already feel much better, much healthier in comparison to this time last month so I am optimistic.
–but not so optimistic that I think I can immediately jump back into all my on-treatment habits! I am operating on anything between 50% – 75% of my previous energy, but still have the same amount of work/social/online commitments. I hate to say it but after I check in on facebook, I am going to limit myself to this blog for a bit and see how that goes. It’s comfortable and I find it less demanding than facebook or goodreads. I’m not apologising for this, because I am learning that I do not need to apologise for being sick, but I do hope that my silence hasn’t worried any of my online friends! I was hesitant about sharing this at first, but I know that there are a few of you who live with health issues, and that Mantel’s article or my response might come at a time when you need the reminder that it’s not all on you — or that you might have some advice for me. Either way, I really appreciate the fact that you’ve read this. It means a lot to have your support, and hopefully I’ll have a way to show you how much I can do with that support soon.