Categories
Journal

Being Sick and Reevaluating Priorities

This post is an attempt to look at the upside of things. To do this will require acknowledging that there is also a downside. Please don’t come at me for being negative. Being sick and reevaluating priorities isn’t automatically a dark and dismal thing, unless you call taking a realistic look at objective reality an inherent downer.

To recap for those just tuning it, a series of jobs in toxic corporate environments wrecked my physical and mental health. Self-employment has its own stresses. Being immigrant does as well. Chronic digestive issues can be traced back to ulcers, chronic respiratory problems from multiple bouts of pneumonia due to a lack of sick time, and anxiety disorder from having a job that required me to do morally and ethically reprehensible things.

So.

I kind of crashed over the holidays, and I’ve been having a difficulty time getting back up to speed. I am self-employed, so if I don’t write I can’t pay the bills. My ambition is endless, but my energy is a finite resource. I had to step back and look at what absolutely had to be done, what could be put off, and what wasn’t necessary but, for some reason, was still on my plate.

Being Sick and Reevaluating Priorities

If you have been following along for the past couple of years, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to do this. I think the first major crash was around March or April of 2018. It might have been 2017. The point is that it’s happening often enough that it’s a cycle. The cool part is that every time I get better at managing it. This time wasn’t a major crash, because I sensed it coming on. I took the proper steps early. Previous crashes have already edited many things out. Things went relatively smoothly.

I know not only what task are essential, but what projects are important to me. My limits revealed themselves to me over time. This is actually a superpower now, because I get be as productive as possible and wring every milliliter of value from my time and energy without killing myself. Work gets done. Bills get paid. I get the rest I need.

Thanks for Visiting

Comments? I want to hear them! Questions? I want to answer them! Leave a message below and let’s chat about writing!

Come along on this journey with me, as I fumble around and figure out what I’m doing. Go to the bottom of the page and subscribe to the site, if you haven’t already! Never miss a new post!

Categories
Journal

Taking a Break

My intention was always to blog through the holidays. After all, I’m still going to work on the novel every day, as well as plug away on deadlines for some paying work. The past few days have been beating me down, though. So I’m taking a break until 6 January. Things will pick up right where they left off then.

While I don’t want to lose any of the momentum I’ve built here, seasonal affective disorder finally caught up to me. Ironically I made it all the way to the solstice, when the days finally begin getting longer. All I want to do is sleep. I have no energy. It’s been a struggle to get through the day. This is before the extra energy that will be required to get through Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Before I burn myself out, I’m making a proactive decision. For the sake of my physical and mental health, some things are coming off my plate temporarily. That way I’ll be able to do the things I need and love to do, like cooking holiday meals and spending time with people I care about.

Taking a Break

Have a safe and happy holiday season, regardless of what or how you celebrate. Let’s meet up here in two weeks and we can catch up on what’s happening. See you in the 2020!

Categories
Journal

What is the Best Thing That Happened This Year?

Hands down the best thing that happened this year was getting our Finnish residence extended. I love Finland, and I’d like to stay here forever. My reason for naming this the best thing, though, is even more basic than that. Our lives aren’t going to be disrupted, at least for another several months when we have to re-apply. We don’t have to abandon the things we have going — Katie’s education, her art career, my writing career — to relocate to another continent and start everything over (again).

The world right now is in such a state that I’m less happy about things that happened than I am over things that didn’t. All I crave right now is stability, something I’m constantly working toward. Just to be able to live life without having to periodically justify my existence. Finnish immigration is seriously a pleasure to work with, they’re nice people and have always been incredibly kind and helpful, but the process is still stressful.

All of this comes down to money. Shifting away from my current publishing niche, learning new skills, and doing better at marketing my work feeds into that. Stepping up my game means earning more, which in turn means less stress over whether my immigration status will be renewed. The best thing that happened this year is that I get to continue pursuing my goals into next year.

What is the Best Thing That Happened This Year?

How would you answer this question, reader?

Do you have questions you’d like to ask me? Leave them in the comments below, and I might answer them in a future post! Thanks for participating!

Categories
Journal

Why I Identify as a Spoonie

People have seen that I identify as a spoonie, but don’t know what that means. I reference it in posts about self-care. My tweets sometimes have related hashtags. I want to clarify what that term is, how it applies to me, and why I think having it as part of the public conversation on chronic illness is important.

Spoon Theory was first described by Christine Miserandino in 2003. For a full explanation you should go read her original post, but I’ll sum things up here. When you’re living with a chronic illness, you have finite resources to get through the day. It could be energy, or a threshold of tolerance for pain, or the emotional fortitude to be around people. That resource is represented by spoons, because Miserandino was in a restaurant when she was explaining this to a friend. You only get so many spoons at a time. Nearly everything you do costs spoons. Based on your exact illness, some things cost more spoons than others. When you’re out of spoons, you’re done. You can’t do any more.

The people who live with this reality call themselves spoonies.

Why I Identify as a Spoonie

This metaphor has become important, because it’s a way to explain “invisible illness” to people who don’t understand. We hear “but you don’t look sick”, or get called out for having a job and a social life. Because we appear to be as functional as anyone else there’s an assumption that we’re faking, or seeking attention, or looking for pity. You’re seeing us when we’re spending our spoons. We’ve budgeted to use our resources on those activities. What you don’t see is that we then go home and collapse. We spend the weekend recovering so we’re able to go to work on Monday. Even getting out of bed in the morning can have a cost.

I’ve suffered from chronic pain since high school, when I was involved in an accident. It never goes away, although the intensity waxes and wanes. Over the years I’ve learned to ignore it and work around it. Most of the time it’s background noise. As I’ve aged that’s become harder to do. Along the way I’ve also picked up arthritis and a battery of anxiety disorders. More recently, I’ve added executive function disorder to the mix. Yay.

Throughout my life I have had success in a variety of jobs. I’m a productive person, an entrepreneur, and manage to get the bills paid, keep the house in order, and stay on top of things. I’m not bedridden or housebound. But things have a cost. I know how many spoons certain things take, so I need to plan. It’s another reason why I’m a bullet journal enthusiast, as well as a pragmatic minimalist.

How the Term “Spoonie” Helped Me

Having a simple metaphor I can use to explain my issues to other people is handy. People seem to get it, where other attempts to describe it have failed. They understand that it’s a zero-sum game, that it requires choices. Yes, I can do this, but if I do then I can’t do that. The more people understand, the easier life become for spoonies everywhere.

The term has helped me to better understand my own limitations. Since embracing the term I’ve become more productive because I plan my activities more realistically. I have a better awareness of how much I can reasonably get done in a day, and how far I can push myself. It’s helped me to gain awareness of how long it takes me to recover when I overdo it. That means that I have fewer ups and downs, and more continuity. There’s less guilt over things left undone because I ran out of spoons. I feel better and have more energy, because I’m not trying to be superhuman.

Probably the most impactful result of having a term to use is finding community. Knowing that other people are going through the same thing, that there are people who can relate, helps in ways I can’t begin to describe. It doesn’t matter that their illness isn’t my illness. They understand being exhausted and overwhelmed. They’ve heard the same hurtful remarks. We can share tips and tricks, coping mechanisms, and just generally offer one another moral support. I identify as a spoonie because the term makes me feel like I’m not going through this alone. I share this for the benefit of other spoonies, so you know that you’re not alone, either.